State government funding a vital boost for staff and students
New Queensland government funding to assist international students stranded in Queensland due to COVID-19 is a critical support for the ELICOS and VET sector at this unprecedented time.
$2.2 million is being given to assist vulnerable international students with essential services and assistance including professional counselling, mental health support, crisis accommodation and visa guidance.
IEUA-QNT Growth Organiser Cherie Wills said the extra funding was vital to support international students and should in turn assist in helping sustain the ELICOS and VET sector, which employs more than 20,000 people across Queensland.
“Our members in this sector have international students who have lost their jobs, who are vulnerable and on their own as they cannot attend their school or college and have had to study online,” Cherie said.
“Unfortunately, these students and visa workers are ineligible for JobKeeper and JobSeeker payments.
“Ultimately, if international students are adequately supported by the government, it will contribute to secure, ongoing work for members of our union,” Cherie said.
Sector must be supported
With the majority of the ELICOS and VET workforce employed on a sessional or casual basis, employees have limited job security and savings, as the sector is heavily reliant on the intake of fluctuating student numbers.
Many ELICOS colleges have already commenced stand downs of staff and other colleges have closed entirely.
“If international students cannot afford their tuition, teachers’ entire careers are at risk,” Cherie said.
“Although these colleges are regulated federally, the federal government has dropped the ball and the state government once again had to step in and take action.
“It is already a fraught and volatile sector for employees, and without government support for international students and teachers, there will be a devastating knock-on effect,” Cherie said.
Our union maintains that ELICOS and training teachers deserve substantial and ongoing support by both the state and federal governments.
IEUA-QNT Growth Organiser Aaron Watson said both federal and state governments need to do more to ensure that those who work in the sector are supported.
“While that government support is essential, employees across the sector can support each other by coming together as part of our union,” Aaron said.
“Even in challenging times, we as a union, are stronger when we are united and act as a community, supporting practitioners and students together.
“Our union will always be there for members and will continue to strongly advocate on their behalf to government at all levels during these difficult times,” Aaron said.
IEUA-QNT support for members
Members are encouraged to join the IEU VET/ELICOS Working Group Facebook group to connect with colleagues from across the sector and our union.
You can find the group here.
Currently, we are seeking feedback about the sector’s response to COVID-19 through three questions you can answer via the Group’s page.
1. What is your key concern during the current environment at your workplace?
2. What do you consider vital for your union to address within your profession?
3. If you had the opportunity to ask your state or federal member of Parliament a question, what would it be?
If members need support or advice about their working rights and entitlements throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, contact our union today.