No doubt, our students have several significant issues and these issues have been raised with Governmental and Police authorities here. We are very confident about serious actions in these matters. There is no choice here because the International education industry in Australia worth $16 Billion [about $2-3 Billion from Indian students] is at risk if prompt actions are not implemented.
As you may know, a community committee has been formed in consultation with Indian Consul General, Sydney to help tackle these issues. The committee members are Harry Walia, Vish Viswanathan, Stanley D’Cruz, Shubha Kumar and Yadu Singh [Coordinator].Following is a brief description of issues and proposed action plans by the committee.
These issues are;
1. Safety and Security:
Several cases of robbery & bashings of Indian Students in Sydney.
Proposed Action Plan
- Educate students to REPORT the incidents to NSW Police. Reporting does not affect their VISA.
- Lobby with Councils for a better lighting around Railway stations, car parks and alleys etc
- Lobby with the local councils for the installation of CCTV for surveillance of crimes
- Liaison with NSW Police re under-cover policing, more visibility and patrolling in hot-spots
- Educate the students to be street-smart and be aware of their surroundings
- Employers have a duty of care and must arrange them to be dropped off at their apartments if it is beyond 10 PM
- Explore the issues involving “Work-cover” matters in case of injury/assaults
2. Accommodation for Indian Students
No assistance on arrival. Many students forced to share crowded apartments and Poor treatment by rental agents
Proposed Action Plan
- Lobby with authorities re the provision of 3-6 months accommodation which must be organised by education providers at the market cost
- Lobby with Immigration regarding this requirement [Visa must not be issued unless accommodation confirmed]
3. Quality of training:
Many students are exposed to poor quality of training by educational service providers & shady, shonky or bogus institutions.
Proposed action plan:
- Accreditation authorities/bodies to audit the quality of training randomly and frequently
- Lobby with respective Govt. Agencies to take proper actions on proved cases
- Surveys from the present/past students re the quality issues [anonymously]
- Effective and prompt action by DEEWR/ACPET re alternate placement in schools/institutions or refund of the tuition fees if the educational provider goes out of business
4. Exploitation of Indian students:
Indian students are exposed to exploitation of all kinds & bullying in part time employment or by educational service providers. They are getting below-award wages in many cases. Some Indian employers are also involved in this type of exploitation.
Proposed action plan:
- To advise & educate students about their RIGHTS in Australia
- To educate them re the appropriate agencies to deal with such matters
- To encourage/facilitate genuine students’ associations which are largely run by students themselves, not business people with hidden agenda and purposes.
- Indian community leaders to understand the “conflict of interests” concept when taking the leadership role in students’ matters. They must stay out from a leadership role if they are involved with any business involving students [schools or consultancy].
- To lobby for establishing an overseas Students’ Ombudsman
5. Health Cover, other appropriate insurance matters and emergency insurance:
Lack of proper/current Insurances and coverage by some students, particularly when they are on bridging Visa
Proposed Action plan:
- Pre arrival Information package-in India
- Lobby with government agencies re the need for the medical cover and emergency including death insurance.
- Proper medical insurance including death insurance must be a condition for the Visa and such cover must be current at all times during the stay in Australia
6. Social issues:
Brief details: poor communication, insufficient participation in local community events & meetings and poor public behaviour in many cases
Proposed action plan
- Communication/education through community Radio, TV, newspapers and website.
- Encourage participation of students in community events
- Accept that we are the ambassadors of India
- Know what is expected in every situation.
- Encouraging and promoting “when in Rome, do as Romans do” policy for our students
- www.indianstudents.net.au will be launched very soon with info on Australian rules/regulations, Australian ways, expected behaviour and rights/obligations [There is now sufficient information in these matters in High Commission of India, Canberra and Australian Gov websites]
7. Brief details: Indian students are unaware how to deal with emergency situations
Proposed action plan:
- To provide information packages on service providers and counselling services
- Look into possibility of a Community Helpline for non-emergency matters
- Set up a website and link it to the Indian High Commission/CGI
8. Develop the Indian media leadership group for students’ and community issues. This would give an opportunity to exchange views, form strategies and execute them effectively. India Media group will help in dissemination of the information. We recognise that we need a good relation with Indian and Australian media to be able to do an effective advocacy of Indian students’ issues with various Gov agencies and relevant stake-holders.
9. To set up an INDIAN Students’ Emergency assistance and BENOVALENT FUND
10. To seek actively sincere and genuine community members and students for the continuation of the outlined tasks. Most times, Indian community members are aware about the exploiters from our own community. We must take it as our social/community responsibility to do a social boycott of such exploiters. We believe that exploitation of Indian students by Indian community members is the lowest of low and a despicable behaviour.
11. To lobby for some transport concession.It is available all over Australia except NSW and Vic. It would encourage more use of public transport which might also reduce the assaults/robberies of students.
12. To bridge the gap between Indian students and established Indian Australians by reaching out to Indian students, inviting them to social gatherings, mentoring them and providing help whenever practicable/possible.
Dr Yadu Singh
. The above mentioned committee had prepared its report and forwarded its recommendations to the relevant authorities.
. After completing its job, the committee had dissolved itself at the end of June 2009 and communicated its decision to the Consul General on 1/7/09.
. This report is being published with the purpose of making the community aware of its contents.