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International students in Australia are going hungry, with 60 per cent now unemployed

Renata Tavares Silva is a student out of work who lives in Sydney.

But the international student from Brazil is on her own, unlike her Australian counterparts who can rely on a government safety net.

“[I’m] simply terrified, each way you look you feel like ‘I don’t have anywhere to go’,” she told SBS News.

The 27-year-old has worked for two years in Australia and nearly completed her master’s degree in digital marketing from Kaplan Business School.

She had been employed at a Sydney hotel to support herself but was shown the door when COVID-19 struck and occupancy levels fell.

“This year when I’m about to finish school, I simply lose my job, how will I survive?” she said.

Since then, Renata has not found any job, and is now relying on the income from her husband.

The desire to regain jobs, she discovered, exposes the more than two million people on temporary visas to a greater risk of abuse.

She says she was asked to do a trial at a Sydney cafe only to be told that she was supposed to stay and work for five hours at no expense.

“She said, ‘hey if you pass the trial I can pay you $17 hourly’ and it just made me realise I had to leave that place,” she said.

The minimum wage in Australia is $19.84 per hour. Renata has since reported the business to the Fair Work Ombudsman.

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