International student hotline launched
Date posted: Tuesday 3 Aug 2010
Student Assistance Line, the first national after-hours personal support hotline for international students in Australia, was officially launched at Swinburne University today by Bruce Baird AM, author of the Federal Government’s recent review of the international education sector and overseas student welfare.
Speaking at today’s launch, Baird said that support initiatives that give overseas students somewhere to go for help 24 hours a day, seven days a week, are vital for the sustainability of the international education sector in Australia.
“The review I led on behalf of the Australian Government found that international students’ need for information, assistance and advice is ongoing beyond any orientation program, and that issues related to culture shock and welfare cannot be addressed by a pamphlet, a website or a brief lecture.”
“I applaud any initiative that allows international students to talk to someone who can help - especially if that support is available after hours or on weekends when students can feel most alone or vulnerable,” Baird said.
Mondial Assistance CEO, Dr Brett Robinson said that the intent was to develop an optimum hotline model that offered international students somewhere to call for help at night, on weekends and public holidays.
“Each education institution participating in the Student Assistance Line has one specific and dedicated 1800 number that their international students can call after hours when the institution’s services are unavailable.”
“We have developed response protocols and reporting loops with each of our institutional partners so that students feel they are dealing with their own education institution at all times. That, I believe, is a key strength of the initiative,” Robinson said.
Swinburne University of Technology Vice-Chancellor Professor Ian Young said that added to Swinburne’s existing support services, the Student Assistance Line provides certainty of high-quality assistance for international students at any hour of the day.
“This allows us a duty-of-care to our overseas students that not only satisfies the National Code of Practice under the ESOS Act*. It also ensures that we are offering a life and study experience for overseas students in Australia that approaches, if not leads, international best practice,” Professor Young said.
The Student Assistance Line is provided by Mondial Assistance to education institutions as an after-hours service where overseas students can find help and someone to talk to when they really don’t know where else to go. They might need help with accommodation, transport or a personal safety concern, practical support locating a doctor near where they live, or accessing counselling services if they feel overwhelmed or depressed because they are away from their families and their homes.”
Australian education institutions currently involved in the Student Assistance Line with Mondial Assistance include Swinburne University of Technology, Bond University, Think Education, Victoria University, the University of Newcastle, Navitas English, James Cook University, La Trobe University, the University of Southern Queensland and John Paul College.
The Swinburne number is 1800 022 168.
*Education Services for Overseas Students (ESOS) Act 2000
Mondial Assistance Australia
P: 07 3305 7142 or 0416 118 011
Swinburne University of Technology
P: 03 9214 5123 or 0416 174 862