Fees will force migrants out

Cathy Sweeting, Michelle and Ryan Dunne, and Wanrbro MLA Paul Papalia. Picture: Elle Borgward www.communitypix.com.au d406351
Cathy Sweeting, Michelle and Ryan Dunne, and Wanrbro MLA Paul Papalia. Picture: Elle Borgward www.communitypix.com.au d406351

Under the revised policy, parents working in WA on the visa will pay the amount as part of the government’s plan to recoup $120 million in the education budget.

Michelle Dunne and husband David, a diesel mechanic, moved to WA 15 months ago with their children Ryan (4) and Zach (2). Ryan is in kindergarten at a local school and due to start pre-primary next year.

Mrs Dunne said she felt ‘cheated and misled’ because now her family had no other choice but to pack up and return to Ireland, homeless and jobless.

‘We pay our tax, same as any Australian citizen, we don’t receive Medicare, Centrelink or childcare rebate, we just want what was promised to us under the terms and conditions of moving to Australia,’ she said.

‘Colin Barnett said there were 8600 children putting additional pressure on the education system, but surely when the government accepts 457 visas, they would take into account our kids would be attending school.’

‘There is a massive misconception that parents on 457 visas must be FIFO workers or earning a lot of money but that is not the case; we are just making ends meet and trying to give our children a better life.’

Education Minister Peter Collier said details of the plan would be finalised soon. He said the number of dependants of 457 visa holders attending WA public schools had increased significantly over the past eight years.

‘Each government decides the enrolment status of dependants of 457 visa holders and whether they pay tuition fees,’ he said. ‘If you look at the contribution closely, it represents a small amount of the actual cost of education in public schools and this decision is not without precedent.’

Opposition education spokesman Paul Papalia said Mr Barnett should feel ‘ashamed’ that he would force these parents to pay an additional $4000.