Following a social media call out for emergency accommodation, a local West End couple offered up free accommodation – an empty AirBnB studio – to help out stranded, out of work international students.

This author put the notice out that a lot of our international student guests were doing it really tough as a result of this pandemic and that they could do with some rent free accommodation if they could get it.

One of my dearest friends is Paulo. He’s from Brazil and has been living with one of my neighbours for the last few years. And international students made up most of the staff at my favourite local cafe, The Jacaranda Coffee Lane on Boundary Street – before this lock-down of course.

Isolation has meant the closure of hospitality services so that much of the employment which usually keeps students afloat has simply evaporated. Until very recently no government assistance is available to them other than being allowed to access the ‘vast sums’ of their own superannuation accumulated over one, two or three years in part time base rate employment.

Reports are also coming in of the difficulty facing these students if they decide to abandon their courses of study and head home. 

“One of my friends was looking at that option,” says Paulo, “The only airfares my friend could find to Brazil have gone up to $10,000. On top of that they’d be losing all the tuition fees they have already paid”.

The new international tenants moved into the empty AirBnB two weeks ago for the next three months, dependent on virus restrictions being eased and work opportunities opening up.

“At first we were a bit cautious about maybe getting locked into a longer than usual arrangement with people we didn’t know – but we thought that our concerns didn’t really compare with what they’d be experiencing.  It’s all working out beautifully though.  Their gratitude seems to know no bounds!  They can’t help offering whatever they can contribute which in their case includes cleaning, gardening and Spanish lessons.

“We’ve also encouraged some of our friends to do the same.  They’re now taking in some of Paulo’s friends from Brazil,” the owners said.

This is a crisis that is affecting everyone in our community, and we are relying on everyone to do their bit to prevent infections until a vaccine or an effective treatment is found. Unfortunately, some community members are being asked to sacrifice more than others.  So it’s up to communities like ours to look after those people and share their burden – because they’re looking after us.

If you have accommodation like a granny flat or a flat for AirBnB that isn’t being used for these months of travel restrictions or if you have a rental property you can’t otherwise rent out and you’d like to earn the gratitude of a foreign country, contact Adrian at buzolica@ozemail.com.au or Councillor Jonathon Sri at TheGabba.Ward@bcc.qld.gov.au.

International students should also be aware that the Queensland Government has just announced that it has established a free counselling services that may be able to direct them to some support such as, “tuition support, laptops, isolation care-packs, pre-prepared meals and other living expense payments.” See more Here

 

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