13/11/2014 - 13:20

No public school fees for 457 families earning under $75k

13/11/2014 - 13:20

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The state government has made further amendments to its decision to charge a $4,000 public school fee for families on 457 visas, after community backlash resulted in multiple delays.

Education Minister Peter Collier.

The state government has made further amendments to its decision to charge a $4,000 public school fee for families on 457 visas, after community backlash resulted in multiple delays.

Under the new provisions to the school fees, families on 457 visas who are earning $75,000 or less per year will not have to pay the $4,000 per annum fee for their children who are enrolled in a public school.

Education Minister Peter Collier said while families on the temporary migrant visas needed to contribute to the costs of educating their children in Western Australian public schools, fees must be reasonable.

The original revenue measure was imposed on a “per child” basis, however, the amendments will see that change to a “per family” basis, regardless of how many children a 457 visa-holding family has enrolled in public schools.

Mr Collier said exceptional circumstances would also be considered under financial hardship provisions.

“Full or partial fee waivers will be considered, based on evidence of unforseen changes in a family’s circumstances such as illness, unemployment, family breakdown and death,” he said.

Mr Collier also said regulations would ensure dependants of 457 holders would retain entitlements to enrol at local schools.

Under the original plan, which was introduced by the Barnett government in June last year, families on 457 visas would have had to pay $4,000 for each child who was enrolled in a public school.

It was delayed in September last year for 12 months while amendments were made to instead charge the first child of a 457 family $4,000 to attend a public school, while each subsequent child would cost $2,000 per head.

It was changed again in May this year, by scrapping the subsequent head cost and introducing a flat $4,000 rate per family, but had not yet included the lower-income earning provision.

When the fees were first introduced, Troy Buswell, who was treasurer at the time, said it was necessary to regulate a rapidly growing number of people in WA on 457 visas, which was putting added pressure on the state’s schools.

He said the number of children of 457 visa holders at government schools had increased from 290 in 2005 to 8,600 (as of August last year).

The Labor government last year announced plans to raise $542 million in revenue over four years by increasing application charges for a range of visas, including taking the 457 visa base application charge from $900 to $1,035.

The application charge for 457 visas had just months earlier been doubled from its original rate of $450 as part of the federal budget. 

The fees will apply from the beginning of the 2015 school year.

 

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