THE Hunter has mobilised to help Australian-born Sebastian Skrynnik access a public education at Newcastle East Public School (NEPS), with parents planning a fundraising event to keep the keen learner in the classroom.
School parents Meaghan McGregor, Jess Harvey, Sarah Dennis and Kath Fielden have teamed up with Sebastian’s parents Alexandra Pyatetskaya and Yury Skrynnik and Reserve wine bar’s Tim Bohlsen to host From Russia With Love on April 8.
“This is an opportunity for connection so the community can stay strong and support the family through this visa process – plus it allows them to be involved,” Ms Harvey said.
“A lot has been taken out of their hands and they want to be able to contribute.
“They’ve tried everything, ticked all the right boxes, but have fallen through the cracks – if my child was in this situation, I would hope someone would step in.”
Event tickets are $50, which includes Russian cocktails and canapes, wine tasting, vodka and a raffle.
As reported on Saturday, Sebastian’s Russian parents have endured a series of visa misfortunes and now face a bill of $300 a week to keep him in his school, because he is not a permanent resident.
A small group of NEPS parents has loaned $2700 to pay Sebastian’s term one fees.
Donations have helped repay almost all of this loan and organisers of the upcoming event are hoping to raise $3000 for part of Sebastian’s term two fees and other educational costs.
Ms Pyatetskaya said she and her husband would help with cooking for and organising of the event, which she said was a “fantastic” idea and “something we’d never be able to do on our own”.
“We’re still very proud of our heritage and culture, despite how we feel about the current state of the country.”
Ms Pyatetskaya arrived in Australia in February 2010 on a Higher Education Sector visa 573 and enrolled in a Masters of Applied Linguistics and then a Masters of Communication Disorders.
Mr Skrynnik joined her and they welcomed Sebastian in May 2011.
A company was sponsoring her Temporary Work (Skilled) 457 visa, but it collapsed before it could help her apply for permanent residency, which is a step towards citizenship.
Ms Pyatetskaya has lodged an expression of interest and has the points score required to apply for the Skilled Independent visa 189, which allows someone to live and work as a permanent resident.
They are temporarily on a tourist visa – that does not allow them to work – to June 22 while they wait for an invitation to apply for the 189, but this could take up to two years.
“We want Sebastian to have the opportunities to succeed and the choices that we never did.”
Salvos Legal Special Counsel Richard Hardy will meet with the family this week to discuss their case.
Lawyer Ms Fielden said many families were “in limbo” and policies needed to be amended “so we treat people more humanely”.
“These two would be working their guts out if they could. They’ve captured our hearts, they’re part of NEPS.”
Donations can be made to BSB: 012780 Account: 216425905. Reference “SEB”.
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