International Student Education Consultation Project: Challenges and good practice in supporting international student’s mental health and wellbeing

Ms Vivienne Browne1

1Orygen, Parkville, Australia

Between November 2019 and June 2020, Orygen was engaged by the Department of Education, Skills and Employment to consult with education sector staff and international students to identify and report on the current challenges, opportunities and good-practice examples in supporting the mental wellbeing and physical safety of international students and responding to critical incidents.
Over 650 individuals who were studying and/or working in education settings (including universities, private higher education providers, vocational education and training providers and schools) took part in either online or face-to-face consultations for this project between January and March 2020. The final report was released by the Minister for Education, the Hon. Dan Tehan MP on 27 August 2020.
This presentation will provide an overview of the project methodology, a summary of the key challenges identified across the sector regarding the mental health and physical safety of international students and a description of the seven good practice areas identified. These include: whole of provider commitment through policy and leadership; enhancing connections and belonging; building mental health and physical safety literacy and awareness; prevention and early identification of risk or emerging issues; promoting and facilitating access to supports on campus or in the community; designing and delivering culturally appropriate responses; and critical incident management.
Each good practice area will be illustrated with examples of work currently being undertaken across the international education sector with the aim to promote information sharing and cross sector collaboration.
The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health has further elevated the need for education providers to implement and share good practice in supporting the mental health and physical safety of international students.

Vivienne Browne is the Associate Director, Government Relations and Policy at Orygen. Vivienne has worked for almost 20 years in policy development, project management and program delivery in state government, local government and the community sector. In her current role at Orygen, Vivienne has been responsible for developing a number of reports, submissions and briefings across a range of issues including: the mental health of Australian university students and the mental health and physical safety of international students.

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