But, that is not why I am boo-hooing.
You see, I was lunching with a friend when conversation turned to my son’s impending kindergarten enrollment. She mentioned a school tax imposed on temporary residents. While I understand education costs; the dollar amount she described was far beyond school uniforms, field trips, and extra curricular activities. I felt her counsel was misguided and naively thought the government could not levy such a large public school charge on visa holders. After all, temporary residents’ income tax withholdings are equal to an Australian worker!
I went home, put the kids down for a nap, and scoured the web for anything I could find regarding the New South Wales Department of Education. The good news was I found a comprehensive website which answered every question pertaining to enrolment. The bad news was she was right.
My heart sank when I read the digital black and white writing. The Temporary Residents Administration Fee and Education Fee was $5,000! To add salt to the wound, this tax must be paid every year your child attends public school. And, it must be paid for each child attending school. So, if you have two children on 457 visas, you will be held responsible for $10,000 per year! This means it is more economical for your children to attend a prestigious private school than public school (that is, if they are accepted into the prestigious private school). So let's look for the silver lining. In this case, it would be the $110 processing fee (per child) is a one time charge. Bright side, gals, bright side.
I write this to not scare you away from Australia. In fact, Australian kindergarten courses not only include traditional reading, writing, and arithmetic but also music, art, drama, science, technology, scripture, ethics, history, health, and physical education. The school my child will attend has embraced this extraordinarily well rounded curriculum and is supported by gifted and caring teachers. So, please know my intent is not to make you question the value of an Australian education but to raise awareness of budgetary considerations for school age children that should be taken into account before making the plunge down under.