Understanding Your Role as a Host Family
The main criteria to qualify as a host family:
Genuine Need for Childcare
The primary purpose of the au pair program is childcare. Families looking to host an au pair should have a genuine need for assistance with childcare. This might be due to work commitments, the nature of the children’s activities, or other valid reasons.
Providing Suitable Accommodation
One of the cornerstones of the au pair program is that the au pair lives with the family. Thus, host families must provide:
- Private Room: A comfortable, private room equipped with basic furnishings.
- Access to Amenities: Including the bathroom, kitchen, laundry, and other common areas.
- Pocket Money: Families must provide au pairs with pocket money, which serves as their remuneration. The exact amount can vary, but it should align with fair work standards and cover their basic personal expenses.
- Meals: Families are responsible for providing au pairs with meals during their stay.
Respect Working Hours and Time Off
Host families should adhere to an agreed-upon schedule. Generally:
- Working Hours: Au pairs typically work a set number of hours per week, often around 20-35 hours.
- Time Off: Au pairs should have at least two days off per week and access to breaks during the day.
- Vacation Time: Over longer placements, au pairs are typically entitled to some vacation time.
Support with Cultural and Educational Pursuits
To enhance the cultural exchange:
- Language Courses: Encourage or facilitate the au pair’s enrollment in language courses or other forms of education.
- Cultural Exposure: Help them engage in local events, festivals, or outings that offer a glimpse into Australian life.
Having an au pair is a two-way relationship, requiring:
- Clear Expectations: From the onset, discuss roles, responsibilities, schedules, and any house rules.
- Regular Check-ins: To discuss how things are going, address concerns, or revisit any arrangements.
Proper Treatment and Respect
- Integration: Au pairs should be treated as part of the family, not just as an employee.
- Privacy: Respect their privacy, especially in their personal space and during their time off.
Health and Safety
Host families should ensure:
- Safety: The home environment is safe and free from hazards.
- Healthcare: While au pairs generally have health insurance, host families should guide them towards medical facilities when needed.
Abide by Australian Regulations
Each country has specific regulations regarding the au pair program. In Australia:
- Visa: While there isn’t a dedicated “au pair” visa, most au pairs come under the Working Holiday Visa (subclass 417) or Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462). Families should be aware of the visa conditions.
Hosting an au pair in Australia is a rewarding experience that offers families flexible childcare while exposing them to different cultures. However, the experience is most enriching when both the family and the au pair understand and respect each other’s roles, rights, and expectations. By adhering to the above requirements, host families pave the way for a harmonious and memorable cultural exchange.