Fair fares for all students: demand travel concessions for part-time and international students

About the campaign

In NSW, international students and part-time students are excluded from the transport concession scheme. These students are forced to pay full fair for their transport – double what domestic, full-time students pay.

Part-time students and international students have been fighting for access to the transport concession scheme for decades. Now, with rising rents and outrageous rates of student poverty, students need concessions more than ever.

Member for Newtown Jenny Leong with SUPRA President Weihong Liang and Education Officer Yinfeng (Benny) Sheng with other campaign participants and supporters outside the NSW Parliament on Thursday, 9 March 2024.

Fair Fares campaign update

On Thursday, 29 February 2024 we achieved our goal of obtaining 20,000 signatures for the Fair Fares campaign! This demonstrates huge community support for travel concessions for all students, including international and part-time students.

More than 20,000 people agree that all students deserve equal access to public transport.

NSW is the only state that does not offer some form of discounted travel for international students, and this needs to change!

We want to thank SUPRA volunteers for all their hard work and dedication while working on this campaign. Without all your work, we would not have reached our goal.

The fight for Fair Fares goes to parliament

On Thursday, 9 May 2024 our petition was announced and debated in the NSW Legislative Assembly! We will bring you more updates soon.

We hope this process will bring about dialogue between universities and the NSW Government, and that all options to extend discounted public transport to all students are explored. We also hope this campaign has reached international and part-time students, who might be inspired to keep up the fight for equal rights.

We invite staff and students to join our Transport Campaign Coalition to continue the fight. Contact us to find out more, or connect with us through Instagram.

Campaign coalition

Fair Fares is a student-led campaign, co-hosted by SUPRA and the SRC. The working group includes student unions from across NSW universities, including SUPRA, the SRC, and the UNSW Postgraduate Council (PGC).

Campaign coordinators: SRC President Harrison Brennan and SUPRA President Weihong Liang

Secretarial support: SUPRA Caseworker Jet Hunt.

Contact: admin@supra.usyd.edu.au

University support for Fair Fares

Timeline of the struggle for Fair Fares

1989

Then-NSW Premier Nick Greiner’s government oversaw an amendment to the Transport Administration Act 1988, which excluded international students from the state’s Transport Concession Scheme.

2006

Sydney University Postgraduate Representative Association (SUPRA)’s then-president, Jenny Leong, took the Labor Transport Minister John Watkins to the NSW Civil and Administrative Decisions Tribunal (NCAT).

SUPRA gathered several individual international students into a class, and argued that excluding international students from transport concessions constituted discrimination on the basis of nationality, a subset of discrimination based on race. SUPRA’s position was upheld by NCAT, and the individual students were awarded compensation for the extra money they had spent on fares during their studies.

2007

The NCAT victory was short-lived. The NSW Transport Administration Act 1988 was amended to exclude it from complying with the Anti-Discrimination Act. As a result, the NSW government did not need to extend the transport concession scheme to international students.

2017

Led by student leader Daneile Fulvi, Bankstown Student Campus Council of Western Sydney University supported a campaign for international students to have access to public transport concessions. In September of the same year, Bankstown Student Campus Council of Western Sydney University signed on to the campaign.

2018

International and domestic students rallied outside the NSW State Labor Party conference on 30 June 2018, calling for ‘an end to the discriminatory policy under which international students are ineligible for student travel concession cards’.

The rally was organised by the Concession Campaign Coalition, a campaign group of students from multiple universities, including University of Sydney, University of NSW, Western Sydney University and University of Technology Sydney.

2019

The Council of Australian Postgraduate Associations (CAPA), in partnership with the Council of International Students Australia (CISA) and National Union of Students (NUS), released a discussion paper outlining the case for international student concessions. The discussion paper was signed by 10 different student representative associations across the state.

2020

Jenny Leong, Member for Newtown, brought a bill to the NSW Legislative Assembly. Ms Leong argued that in the context of the global COVID-19 pandemic and associated cost of living crisis, the cost of full fare travel was simply too much for students to bear. Additionally, Ms Leong highlighted the ongoing racial discrimination perpetrated by the ongoing exclusion of international students from any form of travel concession.

After 2 scheduled debates in the NSW Legislative Assembly, the debate was adjourned.

2023

August: Sydney University’s SRC hosted an open meeting to revive the Fair Fares campaign. In the wake of this meeting, then-SRC president Lia Perkins and SUPRA president Weihong Liang committed to revive the campaign for fair fares for all students.

September–December: Weihong and Lia developed their campaign strategy, including a petition to the NSW Legislative Assembly, as well as lodging a submission to the review of the Anti-Discrimination Act.

The petition was launched on 7 October 2023.

2024

January–March: SUPRA President Weihong and SRC President Harrison Brennan coordinated a mammoth effort between SRC and SUPRA staff, council and volunteers to collect 20,000 signatures for the petition to NSW parliament. Once a petition has 20,000 signatures it must be debated in the NSW Legislative Assembly.

March: The petition achieved its goal of 20,000 signatures. Parliamentary debate on the petition is scheduled for Thursday 9 May 2024.

 Timeline written by Ruijie Zhang.

Get involved

Sign our petition to the NSW Parliament now.

If you would liked to get involved with the campaign or volunteer to help share the petition, please email international@supra.usyd.edu.au.

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