A common issue faced by international students when studying abroad is where to seek legal advice when they are facing certain issues.
First of all, many aren’t sure of the laws in the foreign country to begin with, and whether these laws apply to them as international students. For those with language barriers, the problem gets even more complicated.
The international student department in universities will normally be able to offer some assistance and resources, but most are not well-trained in handling legal issues.
But a new app has been launched in New South Wales, Australia, specifically to help students who might be facing legal troubles or need some legal advice at their fingertips.
Source: My Legal Mate from Practera/Vimeo
Australia’s Redfern Legal Centre has recently announced a new mobile app for international students, granting them access to legal advice in their native language.
The first of its kind in Australia, the MyLegal App will offer “interactive video to provide students with instant access to legal information, delivered in English and six community languages”, according to a media release.
The app was built using the technology of experiential learning company Practera, and is the brainchild of solicitor Seam Stimson, who is also the head of Redfern Legal Centre’s International Student Service NSW.
In February, he was awarded the SW Human Rights Medal for his efforts towards helping the 260,000 international students in New South Wales.
Redfern Legal Centre has always been focused on offering international students advice for legal matters.
According to their website, “International students in NSW can get advice about housing problems, fines, debts, car accidents, employment, discrimination, family law, domestic violence, and complaints about colleges or universities. We can also advise how these problems affect student visas.”
However, Seam Stimson said the development of this app takes the company one step further to offering rapid assistance to those who need it.
He said, “Redfern Legal Centre provides a free statewide legal advice service for international students funded by Study NSW but this app will offer further immediate support.
“This is an innovative way to ensure international students can get instant access to tailored legal information and be empowered to take greater control if problems occur.
“By downloading the app on enrolment, international students will be armed with information about their rights before they start their course, with the ultimate aim of preventing issues arising while they are in Australia.
“The app addresses four legal areas identified by students and service providers as having the most need – employment, housing, disputes with education providers and sexual assault. Best of all, the information is provided in multiple languages, delivered in a face-to-face format that is friendly and accessible.”
RLC has announced a groundbreaking new legal assistance app for international students. #MyLegalMate was launched last week at the Lord Mayor’s Welcome for #InternationalStudents, with funding from @cityofsydney @StudyNSW @fairwork_gov_au INFO: https://t.co/z4PF9u0Jh4 pic.twitter.com/PIUolZqmNG
— Redfern Legal Centre (@RLC_CEO) April 15, 2019
Rather than making students pay for the app, education providers will instead be charged a fee for a subscription.
According to the release, “The app will be offered to education providers on an annual subscription basis, allowing students to access the information free-of-charge.”
Australia is one of the largest study abroad destinations with its international student population growing each year, contributing significantly to its economy.
Lord Mayor Clover Moore acknowledged the importance of supporting the many overseas students studying, living and working in Sydney and gave his thumbs-up for the app.
He said, “International students enhance our city by contributing to Sydney’s diversity and strengthening our global connections.
“This wonderful new app puts an invaluable legal resource in the pockets of international students. This will help ensure they’re given every opportunity to have a safe, enjoyable and rewarding time living and studying in Sydney and across NSW.
“Being able to attract and nurture the best candidates from around the world is an investment in our city’s future. That’s why we’ve supported this innovative information resource, and look forward to it helping students from all backgrounds.”
For now, it appears that the app is only for NSW universities.It has not yet been announced whether the app will be extended to include other Australian states.