Young people account for most of the casual workforce in Australia, who bore the brunt of the brutal unpredictability of the pandemic. A major proportion of them are international students, who are only able to work a limited number of hours to support themselves. During the pandemic, many were let go from their work because of casual work conditions, allowing them to be terminated without any notice or benefits from the employer which left them void of government assistance. The hospitality and retail sectors were the hardest hit and they had to let go of many of their casual staff. Some of the workers resorted to taking up other odd jobs, such as farmwork, delivery jobs, and cleaners in kitchens, which often exploited them in terms of their safety, and most of them were paid in cash with very low hourly wages. Without steady income, international students struggled hard to keep up rent payments and cover for basic groceries, which many took up to food donations made by not-for-profits and other charities. With ongoing border closures, students were in fear of never returning to Australia once they went back home, which would leave many of their work undone in terms of their University education, ongoing employment, and other business they are working towards in Australia.

Currently, the AYCW is learning more about the situation of international students offshore and in Australia, investigating the reality of international students by researching current data from social media. Our intention with this information is to facilitate a space both online and in-person where we can capture these stories and respond to international students and the situations that are arising. To address this underrepresented issue, YCW is holding workers’ rights awareness events to bring these unheard voices to light.