Business and Community Finalists

2021 NSW International Student Community Engagement Award

The winners of the 2021 NSW International Student Awards will announced at the Museum of Contemporary Art (MCA), The Rocks, Sydney on Friday 12 November.

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NSW Health STI Programs Unit Photo

International Student Health Hub

NSW STI Programs Unit, NSW Health, Parramatta

In response to the challenge international students face in navigating Australia’s healthcare system and accessing information around sexual and reproductive health, a consortium of more than 40 organisations was formed to create The International Student Health Hub. The Hub is a trustworthy website providing reliable referral links to answer international students’ sexual and reproductive health questions. Topics include safe sex, STIs, HIV, contraception, pregnancy, the Australian healthcare system, overseas student health cover and confidentiality.

The Hub was co-designed with NSW Health, local health and education partners and international students to ensure the content, design and tone were appropriate. The project team worked with 50 partners including education providers, health insurance providers, health services, community-based organisations and researchers. This collaborative approach built and enhanced relationships across varied sectors and utilised established networks in the Hub’s development and promotion.

The Hub’s innovation is in its simplicity, ability to evolve, adapt and be replicated. A Hub Advisory Group, which includes international students, maintains the integrity of the Hub’s information and growth. The comprehensive, inclusive and targeted content provides the potential for it to be replicated and scaled up nationally due to its navigation structure and welcoming design.

International students are a valued part of the Hub’s ongoing development through digital communication promotion strategies (podcast and webinars), and ongoing evaluation through representation on the Advisory Group. This connection with the Advisory Group is a conduit for international students’ professional development and opportunities for mentorship.

International students have articulated the benefits this collaboration has made on their trust for health services. A shift from feelings of shame, misinformation and relying on untrustworthy sources has changed to meaningful connections to health services and a positive impact on sexual and reproductive health wellbeing.

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OISH Photo

Oz International Student Hub (OISH)

Sydney Alliance and Sydney Community Forum, Surry Hills

The COVID-19 pandemic created myriad issues for the international student community. To address this, the Oz International Student Hub (OISH) was formed, to provide a support network to assist and address the needs of NSW’s international student community.

Initiated and supported by the Sydney Community Forum and Sydney Alliance, OISH is an international student hub supported by the City of Sydney which links international students to existing welfare services and civil society initiatives they might need. OISH helps facilitate social inclusion, access to housing and workplace rights, mental health, government services, community, belonging and volunteering. The pilot hub will serve as a one-stop-shop and first contact for many students, with the focus of the activities to grow connections and build a sense of community.

To date, OISH has brought together more than 42 participating civic organisations and more than 20 education providers to continue to work together. OISH recently branched out into over 100 new education providers where volunteers will run online (and eventually face-to-face) reorientation sessions on student rights at work and tenancy, while providing student-to-student connections to combat mental ill-health and loneliness.

OISH’s point of difference to other support services is that it has been co-created and is managed by a cohort of students experiencing hardship, in collaboration with community organisations, industry partners, government and funding bodies. There are more than 70 student volunteer leaders who work at the hub, supporting each other with training, campaigning and building a community.

The hub began as a physical site in Surry Hills in February 2021 and transformed to online following Sydney’s lockdown due to COVID-19 in July, enabling the hub to support students all over NSW including Wollongong, Newcastle, Lismore and Dubbo. The program has been a success with more than 1200 students participating in the program.

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Addi Road Photo

Solidarity & Aid with International Students

Addison Road Community Organisation, Sydney

Addison Road Community Organisation moved quickly at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic to help vulnerable international students and migrants in Sydney access nutritious food and provide a support network to lean on. The Solidarity & Aid with International Students program worked to provide a basic safety net of healthy, culturally-appropriate food and a network to strengthen social cohesion, belonging and connection.

Addison Road Community Organisation expanded and transformed its existing Addi Road Food Pantry by changing their events venue into a Food Relief Hub and implementing immediate health and safety measures to ensure their low-cost grocery program could continue. Since March 2020, Addison Road has provided culturally appropriate emergency hampers to dozens of CALD and ethno-specific community-service groups, and thousands of vulnerable individuals international students and households. This food relief work continues daily and complements the program’s distribution of health and welfare information and social, legal and cultural support for multicultural communities.

Recognising that individuals and whole families – impacted by social inequality – would be experiencing heightened  anxiety, stress and social stigma due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Addison Road also sought to create a support network to strengthen community connection. The Zoom Aunties connected socially-isolated senior Australians (mostly women) with younger foreign students and migrant workers who are far from their families and home environments. By engaging in English-language conversation, this meant social connection, social cohesion, and psychological well-being was enhanced for all participants, as well as a sense of belonging. The Zoom Aunties program also provided opportunities for improving access to other services and resources, as an informal educational opportunity.

Through these initiatives, Addison Road Community Organisation provided vital support for international students when they needed it most.

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