The City of Melbourne will issue retail vouchers for international students impacted by COVID-19 to spend at Queen Victoria Market and boost trade there.

Melbourne’s $200,000 retail voucher scheme, “Our Shout” will provide vouchers worth up to $200 to international students who have been affected by job cuts and are faced with housing concerns.

“The COVID-19 crisis has had a devastating impact on this group and on Victoria’s international student economy, which is worth $9.1 billion a year. We’re responding with direct stimulus to support students and provide a revenue boost for Queen Victoria Market traders,” said Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Sally Capp.

The students can apply for the vouchers on the City of Melbourne website (see below) and can then collect them Melbourne Town Hall from Tuesday, 26 May.

The chairperson of the city’s International Engagement portfolio, Councillor Philip Le Liu said the international students in the city had been among the most affected by changes brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

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“Thousands of international students live in our municipality – many of whom have lost their jobs and have little access to government support. Our food voucher program is a simple but effective way we can help make this time less stressful,” Cr Le Liu said.

“We must protect our education institutions and create a platform for recovery so that international students feel welcomed and supported in Melbourne.

“We will also invest $200,000 in our Startup Action Plan, as we continue to enhance the skills of local startups and promote Melbourne as a great place to start, grow and go global with a business,” said Cr Le Liu.

Councillor Jackie Watts, who is chair of the Knowledge City portfolio said the COVID-19 measures had a profound effect on tertiary education in the city with the city’s university attracting hundreds of thousands of international students.

“The knowledge sector accounts for almost two out of three jobs in Melbourne. Consequently, we are funding programs and events to engage with and promote innovators, entrepreneurs, startups and established businesses in this sector at all levels,” said Cr Watts..

“We will invest $1.5 million on next year’s event to showcase ideas for a smart and innovative city with the wider community.

“We will invest $1 million on renewing and maintaining our traditional and digital library collections, and a further $180,000 to upgrade Southbank Library. Libraries are crucial to our community as shown by the up-surge in digital library services during COVID-19.”

♦International students can apply for Our Shout vouchers by visiting the following City of Melbourne link.