Students petition: high travel costs impacting safety and wellbeing

TWO international students have launched an online petition focusing on the personal impacts of high travel costs, including health and safety concerns. Steven Tannason reports.

International students are petitioning for transport concessions. Photo: Trevor Judd via flickr

International student leaders have started an online petition pushing for transport concessions for international students.

Started in February this year, the petition was pioneered by Catherine Nguyen and Ka Jing Ng who are based in Melbourne and Sydney respectively.

The petition focuses on the personal impacts of high travel costs on international students, including health and safety concerns.

“If we could save some money on transport like our domestic student friends, we could afford to look after our nutrition by buying more fruit, meat and vegetables and not relying on instant noodles to get us through the week,” the petition states.

“You also probably do not even realise how many students put themselves at risk in an attempt to save money on transport. Many international students walk to or from home/work in the dark. Spending almost $4 for a 10 minute bus ride does not seem worth it, so we take risks that we know we should not. In comparison, if we had transport concession, most of us would happily spend $2 to take the bus home from the train station instead of walking 20-30 mins in the dark,” it goes on to say.

The petition has now reached more than 5,800 signatures out of the targeted 7,000.

Catherine Nguyen, a commerce student at the University of Melbourne, said the cost of studying and living for international students in Australia has been increasing, making concerns regarding transport concessions more apparent.

Related story: Rising costs of living hit Melbourne’s international students

“Before, students used to have some pocket money, so they didn’t mind travel concessions as much,” she said.

“But, nowadays, because it has become more and more difficult financially for them, travel concessions have a very big impact.”

According to Catherine, the absence of transport concessions for international students is a disadvantage both psychologically and financially.

“Psychologically, they feel like they don’t have the same rights as local students,” she said.

“They have to use their allowance and they have to save up money from other aspects of life for transportation costs.”

Catherine said she had been personally affected by the lack of transport concessions as well.

“In my first year of university, I lived close to university because I was scared of getting lost…but the awareness [about the travel concessions] sort of prevented me from traveling a lot,” she said.

“I just went to places within walking distance.

“Now, I have to pay monthly because I live further away.

“I can go out more but it has an impact on my monthly budget,” she said.

Catherine learnt about, an online platform for social change, from another international student leader who gave her the idea of starting the petition.

“It is a good point in time to raise awareness about travel concessions because it has been a long while ago since we started a campaign,” she said.

“Now, more than ever, it’s clear that it has personal impact on every individual.

“The governments have their own reasons and I understand that.

“I guess this is just an opportunity for them to change and make these two states more attractive as compared to other states,” she said.

Related story: local councils back calls for public transport concessions

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