The Australian government has several laws and services to protect international students and ensure that you receive a high-quality education. And, most importantly, you have exactly the same rights as anyone else in Australia. Here, we outline everything you need to know about your rights while studying, and where to get help.

Human rights

The Australian Human Rights Commission promotes and protects the rights of international students. And they are clear that you are entitled to exactly the same human rights in Australia as any other resident. You have the right to fair work, suitable housing and to live in Australia free from prejudice or discrimination.

If you feel that you, or a student you know, have been discriminated against, you can contact the Australian Human Rights Commission through their website.

Renting

Wherever you are renting, you hold the same rights as a citizen under the Residential Tenancies Act 1997. You can rent a private property, a room in a share house, or you can sublet (make sure that the landlord has permitted this first).

Always visit a property before renting it and read the lease (rental agreement) before signing. You may also be required to put down a bond (or deposit), which will be returned at the end of the lease. A bond is typically equivalent to 4 weeks rent and the landlord or rental agency should lodge it with the Residential Tenancy Bond Authority.

If you have any issues with your property that the landlord refuses to put right, or you feel they have withheld your bond without reason, you can contact your local or state government for assistance. You can find each state government website here.

Worker rights

While studying in Australia on a student visa, you are permitted to work 40 hours per fortnight during term time. And during the holidays, you can work unlimited hours.

Australia has an excellent minimum wage of £19.84 (accurate in December 2020) and their award rates can be even higher. An award rate is a minimum wage set within a particular industry that has pay grades for different job roles. For example, the award rate for a hospitality worker is over $20 per hour. And this could increase to over $30 per hour on weekends or public holidays. You can find information about award rates for various industries here.

As a worker in Australia, you have the same rights as citizens (information here). You are also entitled to a fair wage and a safe work environment. However, if you feel that you have experienced mistreatment, you can speak to the Fair Work Ombudsman for help and advice. 

Your education

Your education is protected and quality-assured by the Education Service for Overseas Students Act 2000 (ESOS Act). The Australian Government established this act to ensure that all international students’ courses are of high quality. It also provides tuition fee protection.

However, there may be a time when you are not happy with your training provider. In which case, there is help available. Firstly, you can discuss your complaint with your educational institution. If this does not result in a positive outcome, you can contact your state ombudsman. After a discussion, the ombudsman can investigate the matter further.

The ESOS Act covers many areas of quality assurance. For example, any educational institution offering courses to international students must be accredited through the  Commonwealth Register of Institutions and Courses for Overseas Students (CRICOS) register. Furthermore, each training provider is regularly assessed to ensure they are meeting specific quality requirements.

You can find further information about your rights under the ESOS Act and how to make a complaint on this fact sheet.

Tuition fees

If your educational institution cannot provide your course, or owes you a refund of course fees, you can contact the Tuition Protection Service (TPS). They will try to help you either enrol on a different course or receive a refund. 

Buying goods and services

If you purchase something in Australia, you are covered by Australian Consumer Protection Law. If you have any questions or complaints about something you have bought, you can contact your relevant government trade and consumer agency. You can find your state and territory government information here.

Health

All international students beginning their studies in Australia must obtain Overseas Student Health Cover (OSHC). This is an insurance policy that will cover the majority of your health care while in Australia. If you do get OSHC, you must maintain it and meet all payments.

The OSHC will assist you with your medical and hospital costs and some pharmaceuticals. Depending on where you come from, the level of assistance may vary. For example, some countries have a reciprocal healthcare agreement with Australia that provides extra Medicare coverage.

Find out more about your health cover conditions in the OSHC section of the Australian government’s website.

Support from CAC

Australia welcomes international students with open arms and is committed to their fair treatment. If you are studying at Central Australian College and have any questions or require further assistance, you can contact our student support services.