NSW government accused of discrimination against temporary residents

Software designer Silvio Jemma is frustrated at not being able to enrol his son in a local school. Photo: Daniel MunozChildren as young as five are being rejected by NSW public schools because their parents are temporary visa holders while schools across Sydney overflow with enrolments.
Nanjing Night Net

Five-year-old Frederico Jemma was born in Sydney to Italian parents who have lived in NSW for seven years on temporary visas. Both have paid taxes and are happy to stump up the $5000 it costs to send an international student to a local public school.

But in September they were told there was no room for Frederico at Kensington Public.

Enrolments have skyrocketed by between three and five times the NSW average over the past four years across the Waverley, Canada Bay, Sydney and Ryde local government areas, according to a Fairfax Media analysis of Department of Education figures. At Kensington Public they have surged 14 per cent in that time alone.

Facing a budget shortfall of at least $11 billion to build thousands of new classrooms, the NSW government committed record levels of funding this year for 1100 new classrooms in the next four years to help meet the boom in student enrolments.

But the extra capacity will not come quickly enough for Frederico.

Frederico was rejected because he was the son of migrants who had been unable to stay in the one job for the more than two years necessary to gain sponsorship and permanent residency.

As the son of temporary visa holders, Frederico is ineligible for citizenship until he turns 10.

Frederico’s father, Silvio Jemma, a software developer, has worked for Animal Logic, the film production company behind the animated hit Happy Feet.

He is one of several employees in the industry which runs on short-term contracts, who claim they have been left out due to restrictions on enrolling students on temporary visas.

“Most of the children in his class at the daycare, most of them are going to Kensington,” said Mr Jemma. “He thinks he is going to go there, he thinks he is going to stay with them, that is what we thought too, now we are just staying silent.

“It is discrimination. I live 500 metres away and just because I have a 457 Visa I have no rights. It’s frustrating.”

Last year, Fairfax Media revealed the NSW government was weighing a ban on international students at inner-Sydney schools to accommodate rising local enrolments.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.