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COVID-19 support for international students in the Territory

When COVID-19 arrived in the Territory, government, businesses, community groups and students themselves rallied to support international students. The resounding message to international students in the Territory was, and continues to be, regardless of where you came from, you are a Territorian and we will support you as we all navigate through this incredibly testing and unprecedented time. Some of the initiatives born through the COVID-19 pandemic to support students are:

Worker and Wellbeing Fund

The $5 million Worker and Wellbeing Fund provided emergency relief for international students and other Territorians who lost their job or their income was reduced because of COVID-19, and were not receiving support from elsewhere. With the Territory’s domestic borders open, businesses re-opened and employment opportunities increasing, the fund has concluded.

For more information on the Worker and Wellbeing Fund, go to the Coronavirus website.

In addition to the Worker and Wellbeing Fund, StudyNT released a further $100 000 for a second round of the 2020 International Student Wellbeing Grants a total of $252 000 in 2018-19. Grants were provided to 13 student and community groups, and local businesses to increase international students’ social connections and get students involved in the local community, with the aim to improve the wellbeing of international students living in the Territory. Grants have been utilised for mental health workshops, photo walks, yoga classes, dance classes, job skills workshops and festivals.

Kindness Shake and BayanihaNT

Initiatives started up by international students when other students experienced financial stress and isolation:

Kindness Shake

In partnership with local businesses and with the support of Charles Darwin University and the Northern Territory (NT) Government have so far distributed over 4000 free meals, assisted 500+ individuals, partnered with 30+ organisations, recruited 50+ volunteers and raised over $40,000.

For more information, go to the Kindness Shake website.


Focused on practical and supportive responses to people in need and provides free basic grocery and personal hygiene items for students to continue studying.

For more information go to the BayanihaNT Facebook page.

The International Students Reconnect Festival

International students told StudyNT they felt disconnected from each other and the community due to COVID-19. StudyNT in collaboration with the StudyNT student ambassadors hosted the Reconnect Festival on 28 July 2020 to provide up to 500 students with the opportunity to reconnect, to welcome newly arrived international students, and to recognise local organisations and businesses who have supported the international student community during the pandemic.

Thank you reception

In July 2020, the Hon Selena Uibo MLA hosted a reception to thank international student volunteers, and Territory businesses and not-for-profit organisations, for their work during COVID.

The minister praised small business owners, multicultural groups and not-for-profit organisations for their in-kind and financial support to Kindness Shake and BayanihaNT. There were significant donations from restaurants and cafes of fresh food plus chefs’ time to prepare meals, at the same time as these businesses were undergoing major change to their business models due to COVID.

Territory Jobs Hub

The Territory Jobs Hub connects Territorians with employers, including for casual and contract work. The expected 2000+ jobs available in the mango have been advertised through the Hub.

For more information, go to the Territory Jobs Hub website.

The Small Business Survival Fund

The Small Business Survival Fund supported small to medium businesses with operational costs which kept people in work who were not eligible for the Australian Government’s JobKeeper payment, such as some casuals, recently-employed workers, and visa-holder workers.

For more information, go to the Business Recovery website.