Over the past six months, ISWA and its member associations have run massive scale COVID-19 relief program to support international students and temporary residents in WA by providing free food and groceries, medical support, accommodation and living expenses, and various other aids towards mental health and wellbeing of the temporary residents, tourists, students and visiting parents. We have taken up a number of initiatives in collaboration with Indian associations in WA, Consul General of India in Perth, Department of Home Affairs, Department of Jobs, Office of Multicultural Interest, Universities and Colleges, Leaders of the various student bodies, and wider community to provide support to the Indian origin people in WA who are affected by COVID-19 pandemic. Some Key Highlights are captured below:
- A registration link created and widely circulated in the community, to develop a database of the people who need
help – https://indiancommunityperth.com.au/coronavirus-help/
- A regular live video conference forum established – bringing together students in need with WA Govt officials, CGI Perth, Education experts and community leaders to address the issues quickly
- Communication channel established with Study Perth, universities and other institutions to discuss opportunities and avenues to help students.
- A central Covid-19 Support Team established comprising representatives from various associations. 500+ help seekers have been assisted so far by ISWA and association members working closely, through food, groceries, online yoga and other mental health initiatives, live student forum, accommodation support and so on.
- Push bikes organised for students to commute to jobs / delivery services.
- Some accommodation organised with the help of associations and individuals for students and parents
- In collaboration with Australian Indian Medical Association (AIMA), medical help extended to Indian origin students & visiting parents of Indian Origin people with No Medicare Card who are in Perth during this challenging Covid-19 time
- Special information sessions by experts being organised for small businesses affected by COVID19.
ISWA entered a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with SEWA Australia and collaborated with 47 members Indian associations, in an unprecedented move, to jointly raise fund to support the students through rents and living expenses. $25,000 was raised through this effort and disburse din various COVID19 efforts.
As the pandemic was showing no sign to fade away, desperation surged amongst the stranded to go back, and many then approached ISWA to resolve the situation. After a month of a rigorous exploration of all options, and negotiations with several airlines, charters, and travel agencies, ISWA eventually selected CapaJet and Trip Exotica as the travel partner who offered by far the cheapest and a very affordable price for the passengers, and three repatriation chartered flights to India have been successfully carried out to send 700+ stranded Indians in Perth back home.
This selfless community service in the hour of the need by ISWA and its members has been recognized by both state and federal governments, including mention and appreciation in the federal parliament of Australia in May 2020.
On 15th August 2020, during the 74th Indian Independence Day celebration by ISWA, Hon Minister Paul Papalia presented a cheque of $188,000 to ISWA, as a Lotterywest grant to augment the COVID19 Relief program of ISWA.