La Trobe and Medibank partner to help international students get through COVID-19

A new student fund established through our partnership with Medibank is helping our international students get through the COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-19 has had significant impacts for our La Trobe community. Among the most affected are international students, who have found themselves far from home, facing dwindling employment opportunities and closed borders.

International Student Services Manager Joanna Shaw has seen the challenges first-hand.

“We have a particularly vulnerable group of students who arrived in February,” she says.

“They only had a few weeks on campus before lockdown – not enough time to find work. They’re stranded without income, aren’t eligible for government payments and don’t yet have friendship networks for support.

“Many of our students are from countries that have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic – concerns for their families and friends back home only add to their stress.”

La Trobe had already teamed up with Medibank in a partnership designed to support health training and research, and ultimately improve health outcomes for the community.

But when we heard that many of our international students were doing it tough, we put that partnership into action to come up with a solution.

By diverting funding originally earmarked for on-campus activities, we established a $10 000 crisis fund providing grocery vouchers to students facing financial difficulty. We’ve distributed 66 of the $100 vouchers so far, and students have appreciated not only the financial boost, but also the ongoing support of our International Student Services team.

Here’s what some recipients have said:

  • “Your support is meaningful to me, especially when I am living far away from home in a new country during this pandemic.”
  • “Support from the International student support team has been awesome. I really want to thank you all. I am able to concentrate on studies because of you guys.”
  • “Thank you so much for this help, I really appreciate all the support the university is giving to international students like me … now I am feeling calm, and I know everything is going to be better soon.”

Our partnership with Medibank will continue to grow, eventually encompassing employee health and wellbeing programs, research opportunities, graduate programs, alumni benefits and our campus re-development.

La Trobe staff can access significant benefits too, with the Medibank Corporate health cover, including six weeks free and waived waiting periods on extras.