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A Guide to COVID-19 Support for Students in Regional Areas

covid support international student

This article is sponsored by nib

Studying in a regional area is a fantastic opportunity for international students to experience Australia beyond busy major cities. But with coronavirus lockdowns restricting movement and impacting work and study options, you may be left feeling isolated and insecure.

We’ve put together a guide to the various resources available to anyone studying in a regional area and in need of support through this challenging time. For more information on national initiatives and state relief funds, click here. Students in capital cities can also click here to find out about emergency food relief initiatives.

If you’re in a regional area, check out some of the resources and initiatives available to you.

New South Wales

For international students studying throughout New South Wales, the NSW Government will be accepting applications for financial assistance in the coming weeks. The assistance will focus on students stranded in Australia due to COVID-19 and will include accommodation support, a 24/7 hotline for free advice on legal, medical, and mental health issues, and free subscriptions to multilingual student app, “My Legal Mate”. 


The University of Newcastle has opened the COVID-19 Student Hardship Fund, which offers two types of financial relief to students. Find out more here.

The University of Newcastle and health insurer nib also recently partnered to supply 700 Health and Hygiene Packages, consisting of essential health items. These included hand sanitiser, hand wash, toothbrushes and toothpaste, multivitamins, feminine hygiene products and razors for men. The initiative also provides access to mental health resources, an essential aspect of supporting international students through this challenging time. 


The University of Wollongong is offering a living expense grant of up to $1,500 for international students experiencing hardship.

If you’re in need of food relief, check out Food Fairness Illawarra. Here, you’ll find a comprehensive list of all the free meal services available in the area.


The Little Pantry runs a food bank program every Thursday. There are a range of food packages available at very affordable prices, and fruit, vegetables and bread are included for free as an addition to your order. Click here for more information.

At TAFE NSW Bathurst, you can access a range of support services. Click here to find out more.


Not-for-profit organisation, Adra Community Food Pantry, is a great place to visit if you need food relief. Visit the Facebook page for details.


Wodonga Local Food Network has a comprehensive list of food relief options in the Albury-Wodonga region.

Wodonga TAFE provides free counselling to all of its students. Find out how to make an appointment here.

Northern Rivers

Southern Cross University has put together a guide to where you can seek support on a range of issues, including food relief, accommodation, crisis support and more. Click here for more information.


The Queensland Government is providing one-off grants of $500 to eligible international students who are studying at educational institutions that are not universities or TAFE Queensland. Find out more here.

Gold Coast

The Gold Coast Student Hub is providing weekly food relief of grocery packs and frozen meals to international students through to July. Students are encouraged to book an appointment with the organisation’s counselling service for further information on local initiatives and tailored support through personal circumstances. 

Study Gold Coast is another valuable resource for international students. The organisation offers one-on-one counselling sessions for those looking for personalised advice and mental health services, and can direct students to available support networks. These networks include tenancy support and food banks operating in the Gold Coast area.


Griffith University’s COVID-19 Student Support Bursary is available to students who have experienced significant financial hardship due to the coronavirus pandemic. The University is also running a program where students can loan computers for free.


Study Cairns is supporting international students by providing nutritious meals (available daily at the Cairns Student Hub and via drop-off for students at James Cook University and the Northern Beaches area) and setting up an initiative that connects international students with locals so they can practise their English.

James Cook University has put together a Student Success Support Package, which incorporates relief options across a range of areas including financial aid, academic support, and health and wellbeing. Find out more here.

International students studying at CQUniversity should contact internationalsupport@cqu.edu.au for information on food relief, learning resources and other types of support.


Applications for the University of Southern Queensland’s COVID-19 Student Financial Assistance Scheme are open until 7 July. Through the Scheme, you may be able to access payments to cover living expenses and provision of learning resources and technology.

USC is also offering a number of other support programs, including free online counselling, free online career counselling and academic assistance.


For international students studying throughout Victoria, applications are currently open for the International Student Emergency Relief Fund. The Victorian Government’s $45 million initiative aims to support international students who have suffered job and income loss due to COVID-19, and will be delivered in two streams based on your education provider. Information on eligibility for the fund can be found at studymelbourne.vic.gov.au

As well as the International Student Emergency Relief Fund, the Victorian Government is providing one-off rent relief grants and assistance in finding work.


Students studying at La Trobe University’s Bendigo campus or at Bendigo TAFE can access a number of food relief initiatives. Click here to find an extensive list.

La Trobe University is also providing a number of wellbeing and learning support services. You can find out more on the La Trobe University website.

If you need mental health support, Bendigo TAFE provides free counselling to all of its students. Find out the contact details here.


The City of Ballarat is offering emergency food and personal care packages. You can find out more here.

Federation University also has a number of support options, which you can read about on their website.

For more information on support in the Ballarat community, including “Boredom Busters” and help for job seekers, click here.


If you’re looking for food relief in Geelong, Feed Geelong has put together an extensive list of places offering emergency food. View the list here.

Deakin University has launched a financial support scheme, which is available to its international students. Click here for more information and to apply.

Students studying at The Gordon TAFE can access free counselling, currently being conducted via email, phone and video. The counselling covers advice on managing financial hardship, too. Find more information here. The Gordon TAFE is also offering free career counselling to help with job applications, resumes, interview skills and more.

South Australia 

The South Australian Government is committed to supporting international students, including those studying in regional areas such as Mount Gambier. The $13.8 million International Student Support Package offered by the state government is intended for students enrolled in the state’s three public universities, University of Adelaide, Flinders University and the University of South Australia, plus a $500 emergency cash grant and $200 one-off payment for other international students who have been impacted by COVID-19. 

The University of South Australia is supporting regional students through a Student Hardship Fund, specialised support contacts in regional study areas and technology loans for students studying remotely. 

For students studying in other parts of South Australia, Flinders University and the University of Adelaide are offering respective support packages for all students, including cash payments, food relief through Foodbank, and IT support. 

Western Australia

StudyPerth has set up StudyPerth Crisis Relief to cover four key aspects of COVID-19 support: food, shelter, rights and support, and health and wellbeing. The organisation encourages students to reach out for advice and further information, and to refer to their institutions’ support options before applying for StudyPerth Crisis Relief. 

Visit the StudyPerth website for more information on support systems for students studying in WA, including food assistance, shelter assistance and a list of current job openings. 


Curtin University, with campuses across Perth and Kalgoorlie, is offering international students access to a Financial and Housing Support Bursary (applications are open until 5 June) and emergency food relief


Students studying at TAFE WA South Regional can access a range of services, including mental health and study skills support. Find out more here.

Edith Cowan University is supporting students through technology assistance, career support and access to ECU Support Grants. You can also learn more about the University’s support services by visiting the ECU website.


Last month, the Tasmanian Government unveiled a $3 million package to support around 26,000 temporary visa holders, including student visa holders. Pandemic Isolation Assistance Grants are available to students who can demonstrate financial hardship. More details can be found here.

City Mission has a range of support services on offer, including basic food packages and emergency relief, for students in Burnie and Launceston. Click here to learn more.

Students studying at any of TasTAFE’s regional locations may be able to provide online counselling, as well as other kinds of support. Find out more here.

The Find Help Tas website is also a fantastic resource detailing all of the support services on offer in the state.

Northern Territory

In April, the Northern Territory Government launched a $20 million fund that includes workers who are not covered under any JobKeeper payments, like visa holders. Further details can be found here.

Header image courtesy of Visit Victoria.