webinar with geoff lee
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Support being provided to International Students by the NSW government and universities amid COVID-19

AISECS (Australian Indian Sports Educational & Cultural Society) had the pleasure to host an online webinar to address the support and aid being provided to International Students in New South Wales, Australia. We were joined by Hon. Dr Geoff Lee (Minister for Skills and Tertiary Education & acting Minister for sport, Multiculturalism, Seniors & Veterans), who represented the Premier of NSW, Hon. Gladys Berejiklian, Peter Mackey, Director – Trade, international education and small business operations joined us to talk about the initiatives taken by Study NSW. University of New South Wales was represented by Laurie Pearcey, Pro Vice-Chancellor (International) at UNSW Sydney, Innes Ireland, Deputy Director, Global Engagement, International Partnerships, joined us from University of Technology, Sydney & the University of Sydney was represented by Tania Rhodes-Taylor, Vice-Principal (External Relations). The session was hosted and moderated by the founder of AISECS, Gurnam Singh.

Since the beginning of this pandemic, Australia has a community that has been tackling multiple challenges. Australia is home to a large community of international students from all over the world. This pandemic created special challenges for them. It was isolating and scary for many students as they were cut off from their homelands and left jobless in Australia. Moreover, a shift to online learning was challenging for most. The community was vulnerable in many ways and it affected their financial well being as well as mental health. AISECS worked hard to step in at every possible chance to provide help and at the same time reached out to authorities to work on community solutions.

The Government of New South Wales, Study NSW and the universities have been working hard to help solve critical issues for international students. In his remarks, Hon. Dr Geoff Lee MP mentioned the importance of international student and his work to empower Study NSW to be able to deliver and reach out to more and more international students.

The universities also reiterated their commitment to support international students. Echoing that sentiment, it was mentioned that
“The universities are ready to be flexible for the students”

geoff lee webinar

Here are some of the key information and important links through NSW Government and Study NSW providing the aid and support to international students in New South Wales:

● The government has rolled out a 20Million AUD package to support international students.
● It has also decided to cover the costs of Covid-19 treatment and test under the OSHC most international students have.
● For free advice and support, the government has a new hotline; 24/7 international student support service, NSW Government COVID-19 hotline number (13 77 88).
● The government has also released a new app called MyLegalMate App for providing legal support.
● Study NSW and the government are now supporting international students with rental assistance.

To check the eligibility and further information, use this link: https://www.service.nsw.gov.au/covid-19/financial-support-individuals-and-households#support-for-international-students
You can also download a handy guide created by Peter Mackey, Director – Trade, International Education and Small business operations.

Apart from the government-backed support, universities have also taken major initiatives to help students, domestic and international, to get through this crisis.

University of New South Wales has launched a hardship fund, where students are eligible for a grant of up to 2000 AUD. They have also made changes and special arrangements to be flexible about results and enrollments. The university has been reaching out to its students to offer support and engage in community-building in these tough times.
For complete information, kindly check the link: https://www.covid-19.unsw.edu.au/information-students

The University of Technology Sydney (UTS) has released a 10 million AUD International Student Grant and 15 Million AUD Student Support Grant to help international students who are facing hardships in this pandemic. This includes support for technological access, food and rent, flight expenses etc. They are also offering interest-free loans to those in need. The university has engaged in telephone surveys to connect with students and the community. There is a special grant to help students formerly employed by UTS. Cafes inside the campus have been making fresh food and delivering it to students in need.
For more information: https://www.uts.edu.au/current-students/support/financial-help/covid-19-student-support-package

The University of Sydney has created a grant which gives students, both domestic and international, up to 2000 AUD and can be applied to more than once. They are also helping students with computer support to have access to classes. They have also created a welfare hub for the students to access mental health and other support.
More information can be found here: https://www.sydney.edu.au/study/coronavirus-infection-university-of-sydney-advice/support.html

During these unprecedented times, AISECS is trying to support the international students in best possible ways and taking initiatives in their interests.

Team AISECS commends the NSW government & the universities that are coming out to help the students in the face of crisis. Their support is helping us to work in a coordinated manner to fight the outbreak.

inetrnational student in nsw

Study NSW support during COVID-19: Study NSW Presentation – Temporary Accommodation for International Students (1)

For more detailed information, kindly visit our website: https://www.aisecs.org/

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India-Australia virtual bilateral summit
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Australia India working on intricacies of signing the possible Free Trade Agreement

As strategic partners since 2009, Australia and India enjoy strong political, economic, and community ties. Scott Morrison, Prime Minister of Australia, was set to visit India in early January this year but cancelled his plans due to bushfires.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi, will hold his first-ever virtual bilateral summit with Morrison on 4th June 2020. This summit is indeed a positive development towards strengthening the strategic ties between the Indo-Pacific region and would help build trade relations which in turn stabilize the economy. Modi and Morrison are expected to discuss agreements to develop trade in key sectors, including education, technology, agricultural infrastructure, digital health, critical minerals, and manufacturing. As the Australian economy is highly export-driven, the pandemic has come as a reality check to go beyond its reliance on China.

On similar grounds, Australian-Indian Sports Educational and Cultural Society (AISECS) is working towards strengthening the Indo-Australian bonds, be it sports, education, trade, culture, or bilateral relationships. Our Founder, Gurnam Singh believes, “India and Australia share common heritage linked to cricket, curry, and culture.

Talking about FTA, India would have been the main area of additional market access for Australian agricultural and other exports. Australia already has a free trade agreement with all ASEAN countries and it’s been more than eight years Australia hasn’t settled the FTA yet with India. It will not just enhance efficiency but will boost economic growth for both countries.

Also, India welcomed Barry O’Farrell AO,  Australia’s next High Commissioner in February 2020 who served in the Parliament of New South Wales (NSW) from 1995 to 2015, including NSW’s 43rd Premier 2011-2014. He is currently working from the front to initiate flight rescue operations for Indians and Australians.

“I am immensely honoured to be taking over as Australia’s new High Commissioner to India – a role that will allow me to expand the ties between our two countries and importantly to advance the interests, the opportunities and the futures of citizens of both our two countries,” O’Farrell said after the virtual credential ceremony at the Rashtrapati Bhavan by India’s President Kovind.

Along with Hon’ Dan Tehan MP (Minister for Education, Australia), Hon. Simon Birmingham (Minister for Trade, Tourism, and Investment) and Hon. Stuart Ayers (Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism & Western Sydney) in Berejiklian’s government, AISECS (Gurnam Singh) joined meetings to advocate to raise the economic partnership between both the countries.

During his visit to New Delhi in February 2020, Simon Birmingham said, “Many Indians are also choosing to study or holiday in Australia. India rates second as a source of foreign students in Australia and seventh as a source of international visitors. And, pleasingly, India ranks as one of the most popular destinations for Australia’s new Colombo Scholarship recipients, to come and study here, again recognizing the two-way value of the relationship.”
His visit was a part of Austrade’s Australia-India Business Exchange (AIB-X), a multi-month program of events to deepen trade, investment, and tourism engagement between the two countries.

Last Sunday, PM Morrison shared a picture of him enjoying Indian snack “Samosas” naming them as “ScoMosas” and with this, he shared about the upcoming Australia-India summit.

Moreover, the Indian cricket team will visit Australia for the 2020-21 bumper summer of Cricket. This is the main year for us, post-COVID it’s all about Australia and India”

In a post-COVID era, Australia and India have the opportunity to change the business models and build bilateral economic relationships to enable sustained growth. And to do this, the Indian diaspora in Australia, both Australians of Indian origins and Indian residents would play an important role in the future.

For India to develop its aspiration of becoming a $5 trillion economy, Australia can add great value and be a dependable partner in this relationship.

The upcoming first India-Australia virtual leaders’ summit will bring deeper cooperation and if India-Australia FTA treaty is signed, we can hope for a raised Indo-Pacific bilateral trade and investment.

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webinar on mental health by julian_leeser
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Mind your Mental Health webinar during the COVID-19 pandemic with Hon Julian Leeser

“If all my pain and all my tears and all that I have learnt throughout these years could lift a fallen head, could lighten a darker mind then I should think not in vain was my service to the mankind,” – Sushmita Sen.

AISECS, conducted a live webinar on 30th April 2020 with right honorable. Julian Lesser Federal MP of Berowra, Chair of Joint Standing Committee on Migration, Indigenous Affairs, Suicide Prevention and Chair of Indian Community in the Parliament on how to manage mental stress especially during a time of uncertainty like COVID – 19.

The webinar opened as panellists introduced themselves from right across the country and the globe. Cindy, Sunidhi, Reet, Gurnam, Andrew, Faalia, Zoran, Navneet, Abhishek, Reuben who shared his birthday on the same date with all of us and Ashish patiently waits for their true and overwhelming guest.

Gurnam realised he was there; unobtrusively observing and trying to settle his headphones across his ears. Yes, we are talking about Julian, who accompanied us with so much empathy and connection that one human being makes with another.

“I know what a hugely important issue this is,” – says Lesser sharing his deeply personal and intimate story.

“I told a story at the time of my first maiden speech at the parliament about my father’s death by suicide now some 24 years ago. Why did I tell this story? My father was like so many men of his age. He was 55, a quiet man, a generation of men who were told not to express their feelings. He was a reserved man, an accountant at the practice of Parramatta. He was very involved in community activities where Jewish was involved in our synagogue. We just did not pick up the signs that he was contemplating suicide; in the week before he died his behaviour started to change and when you look back at it now you would realize what exactly was going on,”says – Julian.

“We were family who always used to hug each other and I AM GREAT BELIEVER IN HEALING POWER OF HUG. He used to give us long hugs, quite unusual during those days.” The reason I spoke; was to effectively say to the people that we as Australians should notice the signs of suicide and know what to do if we see the signs in someone who might be contemplating suicide and somebody in the parliament understands what that is,”Bespoke – Julian.

His words hit home like a slag hammer, evoking a depth of emotions. These were conversations from life, these are people we can know.

Are you ok? Or more confronting and perhaps more importantly? Are you contemplating suicide? That’s a big question to ask another person. – says Julian fast and furiously. Sharing relevant helplines with everyone – Lifeline 131113, beyond blue, has a special COVID hotline – 1300224636 and if you are contemplating suicide and you can’t get through, there is a suicide callback service 1300659467 and they will call you back, men health line 1300789978.

Julian responsibly commanded the frame making every panellist felt like he or she belonged to the frame. You could see his determination and unshakable affection for everyone present at that webinar conference. 

Gurnam, who was effortlessly compelling, completed the triangle.

Everyone celebrated Reuben’s birthday in the end. “I never thought in a zoom call I would hear happy birthday song sung to me on my birthday,” – bespoke Reuben. 

Everyone enjoyed the interaction with the champion and we need more champions like Julian. AISECS can’t imagine a better champion them him.

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high_Commissioner_of_india_to_australia
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High Commissioner of India to Australia addresses International Students on Covid-19 challenges

Interactive session of High Commissioner of India with students on the COVID-19 situation. On 17 April 2020, the High Commissioner of India to Australia Mr. Gitesh Sarma had a live interaction with Indian students from major cities across Australia on the COVID19 pandemic situation.

During the discussions facilitated by the Australian-Indian Sports Educational and Cultural Society (AISECS), Mr.Gitesh Sarma responded to a number of specific queries from participants on various issues related to the welfare of the Indian student community in Australia.

In the course of his interaction, Mr. Sarma briefed the students on the various steps taken by the Mission and the three Indian Consulates in Sydney, Melbourne and Perth to provide relief assistance to needy Indian nationals, especially the student community across major cities in the country.

In this regard, Mr. Sarma also noted and conveyed his appreciation for the major role played by Indian community and diaspora organisations in Australia in serving the needy during the difficult times.

In response to queries on travelling back to India, Mr. Sarma pointed to the extension of travel restrictions in India till 3 May 2020 and emphasised on the importance of everyone to come together in the national and global effort to resolutely fight the pandemic. Emphasising on the need to develop a feeling of togetherness, Mr. Sarma requested the students to be in close touch with their family and friends, while ensuring that they comply with the relevant advisories from the local authorities and follow the social distancing norms. Consul General of India in Sydney Mr. Manish Gupta, Founder of AISECS Mr. Gurnam Singh and Ambassador Mr. Reet Pal Singh also participated actively during the interaction.

Thank you Ministry of External Affairs Government of India for the support.

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letter to morrison and modi
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Morrisson-Modi telephonic conversation shaping Indo-Oz ties amid Covid-19 crisis

A few days back, there was a wave of despair and depression among all the International students when Australian Prime Minister considering the current health situation gave the statement, where he said- visitor visa holders and International Students who are unable to support themselves due to the corona virus crisis can return to their home countries as their main focus will be on their own citizens and residents (source: News.com.au). This led to an outrageous reaction of the public as this was all unexpected from the government.

Today, Hon’ble Prime Ministers of India and Australia Shri Narendra Modi and Scott Morrisson had a telephonic conversation to discuss the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and the strategies both the governments are adopting for the safety of their countries. As we know, in the counting of International Students, most of the space is constituted by the Indian students.

All in all, both the nations decided to stand together amid this crisis and agreed to share the bilateral experience. Indian Prime Minister stated that their government will provide necessary facilitation and support to all the Australian citizens stuck in India due to travel restrictions. (Source: PIB)

On similar grounds, Australian Prime Minister assured that the Indian community, including Indian international students would be considered as a significant part of the Australian community.  The two leaders agreed to remain attentive to the wider significance of the India-Australia partnership, including in the Indo-Pacific region, even as they focus on solving the present health crisis, the statement said.

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australian-telecoms
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AISECS sent a much-required letter to the telecom minister & service providers

AISECS (Australian Indian Sports educational and cultural society) requested Telecom Minister to help the international student community in Australia by providing a much needed discount for calling and internet services for the next 3-6 months. Most international students are self-funded and rely on casual jobs to take care of their living expenses which include their telephone bills.

As you are well aware, the COVID-19 outbreak has led to a lockdown and subsequent job loss for a lot of Australian residents. However, International students are the most affected during these times as they do not receive any financial assistance from CentreLink.

Official letter to Telecom Minister here –  DiscountedServices_for_International_students

Letter to Telecom service providers – To_TelecomProviders_CEO

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for lease
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Struggle to Pay the rent

Rent or No Rent?

In light of recent events, laws and regulations are being made like never before. COVID-19 has taken the world by a storm and disrupted livelihoods greatly. Unemployment and closed workplaces has caused great financial struggle for many. Rent is a major concern for tenants facing financial adversity. Scott Morrison’s government has taken the wise and applaudable action to put a 6 month moratorium (ban) on evictions for residential and commercial tenants. This means that landlords cannot evict tenants for at least 6 months, therefore they are not to fear homelessness during this pandemic.

A fair and logical agreement is to be made between landlords and tenants during the period of this crisis. Tenants need to emphasize their need for rent reductions and landlords must show compassion and make reductions or not charge at all.  Landlords are also being assisted by the government as they take this initiative, something tenants can bring up while having the talk. With mortgage payments at an extreme low of 0.25% interest, financial strain is greatly eased. If it is still not manageable, pausing repayments for up to 6 months from Commonwealth Bank, NAB, Westpac or ANZ is a viable option.

Further rules are yet to be passed by the government in the coming days with stricter guidelines. This is great planning to keep landlords afloat and keep domestic and international tenants under a roof. It is a commendable step taken by the government amid the pandemic adversities.

Sources:

Real Estate

SBS

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scott morrisson
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Request to Prime Minister to help International students


As we all are well aware of the global health situation due to COVID-19 pandemic, A young student who traveled thousands of miles with high aspirations and eyes filled with dreams to reach the land of opportunities “Australia” is now scared and vulnerable, so AISECS on behalf of International students requested Hon. Prime Minister Scott Morrison to assist all international students with their tuition fee, working hours, financial funding etc.

This is not only one but the story of many anonymous students who reached out to us seeking help with a hope that AISECS will stand to get their voice heard. While you are leading the country and have always stood for the people of the country in tough times, we will not take much of your time but would like to keep some requests in brief on the behalf of our international students, thousands of citizens who came as international students, ex-pats, and the Australian community.

Read official letter to Prime Minister here –  Letter_to_PM

After AISECS sent the letter to Hon. Prime Minster Scott Morrisson, a very positive reply has been received from Prime Minister office for the work they are doing to help everybody in this difficult time.

Read the reply from Prime Minister office – Reply_from_PMO

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News

AISECS views on COVID-19 Global Broadcast

The recent crisis has shook the world around and the impact is felt all over with implications on job, accommodation, mental health etc. One of the renown TV main stream channel SIKH CHANNEL which hosts shows in Punjabi language invited AISECS founder, Gurnam Singh as a panelist from Australia(AU) with other panelists from United Kingdom (UK) and New Zealand (NZ) respectively to discuss about the current situation and how AISECS as the organization is helping from their perspective in Australia (AU)

AISECS on RADIO Haanji

radiohaanji

Radio Haanji is the only independent community radio station in Melbourne that broadcasts seven days a week, 24 hours a day, and brings Punjabi music, Hindi music, Hindi classic songs, top-ten countdowns, current affairs, BBC World, India and Punjab news, cultural and religious programs, interviews, talk-shows, and other community-related programs to the North Indian, Punjabi, and broader Indian communities. AISECS, Founder Gurnam Singh on RADIO Hanji discussing about the recent economic crisis, impact and what can be done as a community to help all specially International students. 

Listen to interview Here

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Request to universities in Australia
Education

Request to universities in Australia to support International students

Amid the current COVID-19 situation which has impacted the international students, AISECS sent a letter to the universities  in Australia as a request to help and support for the students who are away from their families and going through tough times here.

Many of the international students have lost their jobs due to the closing of businesses and because of lockdown, it’s not easy for them to pay the fees, their rentals, and mobile/internet bills.

Education changes the world and while decision-makers always do best to keep up, we advise all the pros and cons should be measured properly so that our students feel safe and secure in our country

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