Media Release: Response to Coroner’s recommendations – Zhikai LU

The ISANA International Education Association has noted the findings and recommendations
of the Victorian Coroner into the untimely death of Mr. Zhikai LU.
We are deeply saddened to hear of the circumstances leading to his death.
ISANA supports the findings of the Coroners Prevention Unit (CPU).
Mental health concerns amongst international students are an ongoing issue for education providers in the sector.

Early identification, intervention and support are crucial for the well-being of these young people.
The report confirms the difficulties that international students encounter in settling into a new culture.
The report also notes the many issues that hamper international students seeking help for their difficulties.
ISANA agrees with these findings.
As Australia welcomes increasing numbers of international students, it is expected that we would also see a corresponding increase in numbers of students with mental health concerns.
This reflects any demographic profile.
The important issues for ISANA are as follows;

 Education providers need to understand the issues and challenges for international students

 International students rely on trusted sources for information, often their social networks and home country sources

 International students do not necessarily identify feelings and behaviours as symptoms of mental health concerns

 Mental health is not often discussed or addressed in the respective cultures of the students

 Underlying mental health issues can manifest themselves in times of stress, such as living and studying in a new culture and particularly when the student is not performing well or encounters other stressors, that they have little experience or support in addressing

ISANA believes that we need to understand how international students access assistance so that they are better prepared to intervene or get help.

To this end, ISANA through its Victoria/Tasmania Branch is undertaking a research project funded by Study Melbourne’s International Student Welfare Program. This project in partnership with A/Professor Shanton Chang from the University of Melbourne and A/Professor Catherine Gomes from RMIT will be looking at the knowledge of international students of critical incidents and how they seek help. The aim is to develop with students and emergency services, a specialised mobile accessible website, with comprehensive social media strategies.

The website aims to educate and inform international students on what to do during a critical incident and will have a section that teaches student support staff and local councils on how to educate international students in dealing with critical incidents.

ISANA notes that a key finding for the CPU is the role that education providers should play in reaching out and supporting their international students. ‘We believe that understanding the challenges faced by international students in
identifying they need help and then accessing support is fundamental to developing appropriate strategies.

We also believe that more needs to be done in supporting the staff that support the students,’ says Bronwyn Gilson, National President of ISANA.
‘We need to understand the different cultures of our international students and provide the professional development and resources for staff so that they can develop and provide
culturally appropriate support and assistance to students.’

For more information:
Bronwyn Gilson
National President
ISANA International Education Association
president@isana.org.au

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