By Jane Wilkins and Indranil Halder
International students from the Indian subcontinent have long been an integral part of Australia’s multicultural fabric, contributing to the rich diversity of the nation. However, their journey to academic success and personal growth is not without its unique set of challenges. These students often leave the comfort of their homes and families in pursuit of higher education, facing a multitude of difficulties along the way.
One of the significant challenges that Indian subcontinent international students encounter is the cultural change. The stark contrast between the traditions, languages, and lifestyles of their home countries and Australia can be overwhelming. Adapting to a new culture and societal norms, while simultaneously managing the demands of academics, can be a daunting task. This cultural adaptation process often puts considerable pressure on students, leading to feelings of isolation and homesickness.
Moreover, the academic pressure on these students is immense. They come to Australia with dreams of attaining world-class education, but the rigorous coursework, assignments, and exams can be mentally taxing. The fear of academic failure, coupled with the weight of financial responsibilities, can take a toll on their mental well-being.
Financial stress is another substantial burden faced by international students. Balancing tuition fees, rent, daily expenses, and healthcare costs can be a juggling act, particularly for those who are self-financing their education. This constant financial strain can lead to anxiety and affect their overall mental health.
Loneliness is a silent battle fought by many Indian subcontinent international students in Australia. Being away from their support networks, friends, and families, they often experience feelings of isolation. The absence of familiar faces and the comfort of home can lead to mental health issues, including depression and anxiety.
Language barriers also play a significant role in the challenges faced by these students. While English is the medium of instruction in Australian universities, not all international students are proficient in the language. This language barrier can hinder their ability to engage in class discussions, understand complex coursework, and even seek help when needed.
The Little India Australia Foundation (LIAF) recognizes these issues and has made it a part of its mission to address them. By providing support for daily essentials like rent, food, and tuition fees, LIAF aims to alleviate the financial burden on these students. This kind of assistance can significantly ease the stress and pressure they face daily, allowing them to focus on their education and overall well-being.
LIAF’s commitment to providing psychological support is crucial in a time when mental health issues among international students are on the rise. The foundation’s efforts to reduce the mental health impacts of isolation and cultural adjustment are commendable. The availability of counseling services, support groups, and mental health resources will be a lifeline for many students who might otherwise suffer in silence.
Additionally, LIAF’s focus on helping students find jobs, gain work experience, and receive migration advice is of great importance. These services not only enhance their career prospects but also provide a sense of security and belonging in Australia. The foundation’s willingness to collaborate with other organizations and individuals to make a real difference in these students’ lives is a testament to its dedication to their well-being.
In a country that prides itself on multiculturalism and providing world-class education, supporting international students, especially those from the Indian subcontinent, is not just a moral obligation but a strategic investment in the future. These students bring diverse perspectives, talents, and aspirations to Australia, enriching the nation both culturally and economically. LIAF’s commitment to their success ensures that Australia remains a preferred destination for international education.
As the foundation’s journey unfolds, it will be marked by collective action, community engagement, and the tireless pursuit of making a difference. The launch of the Little India Australia Foundation is not merely a moment but a movement, and with each step forward, it will positively impact the lives of countless international students from the Indian subcontinent. Together, as a community, we can bridge the gaps, ease the struggles, and celebrate the triumphs of these remarkable students who choose Australia as their educational home.
Last Sunday, we were delighted to attend the launch of Little India Australia Foundation at Harris Park in Sydney(home to a large Indian community, Indian restaurants and Indian-owned businesses). Gathered were friends, supporters, and community leaders who came to support the launch of foundation and make it more memorable. Attendees included Lord Mayor of City of Parramatta Mr Pierre Esber, New South Wales treasurer Daniel Mookey (MLC), Donna Davis MP, Warren Kirby MP, Julia Finn, Patricia Prociv (Rosehill Ward) and Susai Benjamin.
We were delighted to hear about the foundation’s goal to serve the Indian subcontinent international students. One of us being a former international student myself, we are aware of the limited help that international students from the Indian subcontinent receives in Australia. We are enthusiastic that Little India Australia Foundation ( LIAF)will be providing support to international students to manage their everyday lives, whether it be rent, food or tuition fees.
As Dr Neeraj Duggall, the President of the foundation said, “The energy and enthusiasm in the arena were palpable, and it reinforced our belief that together, we can make alot positive impact on our community and beyond. Your attendance demonstrated your commitment to our mission and your shared belief in the power of collective action for change. We are excited about the journey ahead and the opportunities to work together to address the challenges facing our community. The foundation’s launch is just the beginning, and your involvement will continue to be a vital part of our success.”
Today, there are nearly 100,000 Indian international students studying in Australia. And the need for a meaningful endeavour to challenge Indian subcontinent’s outdated perspectives and encourage new ideas for international students is paramount. Especially, with their mental health. Living far away from family and friends can have mental health impacts. As a multicultural ambassador for Mental Health Foundation, I am grateful that LIAF is actively looking to psychological support Indian subcontinent international students to reduce mental health impacts.
Australia is a country of choice for higher education for many students and supporting them will be of much benefit to the Indian and Australian communities. LIAF will help international students struggling to find jobs, work experience, migration advice and coping with studies. The foundation is happy to collaborating , hearing insights, and making a real difference in the lives of those the foundation aim to serve.
With so many gathered at the launch of LIAF effort to serve the community will be successful in every step of the way.