FAQs for Hosts


Host mother with students in the kitchen


Host Frequently Asked Questions

NOTE: In Case of an emergency, contact:

  • 1300 ‘MY STAY’ (1300 69 7829)

Our hosts are the key to the success of the AHN program, generously opening their home to international students. Below are some of the most common questions about hosting that we hear from the thousands of Australian families who have hosted students through AHN Homestay.

The majority also apply to the new AHN HomeShare product.


New Video FAQs

The AHN team sat down in front of the camera to answer some of the most commonly asked questions from hosts. See our new Video FAQs to hear first hand from AHN.

Or please keep reading below for more FAQs about homestay and hosting with AHN.


Potential Hosts

What is Homestay?

Homestay is a cultural exchange between a local individual or family (called a host) and a visiting student. The student lives for an agreed period of time as a guest in your home.

How does it work?

As a host you would generally be required to provide the student with all their basic needs, including their own room, food and space to study. Over the period of their time together the host assists the student to become familiar with the local area and customs in a relaxed and friendly household setting. The student is also encouraged to share with the host information about their home country and culture. This interaction is what makes homestay ideal for students and hosts looking for a unique cultural experience.

How much do I get paid?

The student pays a weekly fee to cover management and supervision costs, insurance, 24/7 emergency support services and to also reimburse the host for day to day food and accommodation expenses support. This fee varies from State to State and generally ranges from $ 220 to $300 per week. The host receives approximately 85% of this fee to reimburse them for day to day expenses. This income is tax free (non assessable) for up to 2 students being hosted (click here for more information).

How close do I have to be to a University?

A thirty minute journey as an example. Often you may find you actually live closer when you include not just schools and universities, but also private education providers and TAFE colleges.

How do I apply?

Click the “Join as a Host” button on the main AHN guests page. Once you have filled in all three pages of the application form, an email will be sent to your nominated email address. You must receive this email and click an activation link to verify your email address and activate your account. You can then log in to yourAHN Homepage whenever you wish by clicking the “Homestay Hosts” link in the top menu.

What does the application process involve?

Once logged in, new host members can take their time to create their profile, explore the members’ area and read through their training information. They then nominate when they are ready to sit a multiple question, online exam with simple questions taken directly from the training. This exam is also considered “open book”, as it is okay to review the training while answering the questions. In the final stage of the application, an interview will take place where an AHN Supervisor will visit your home to meet you, inspect the nominated student’s room and the home environment. This visit will provide you with the opportunity to meet your Homestay Supervisor and discuss further your expectations and learn those of AHN.

What are my responsibilities?

The AHN community has a duty of care to students which means being in a position where someone else is likely to be affected by what you do or do not do and where it is reasonable to expect that the other person might suffer some harm. Consequently it is expected that hosts accept students in to their home and provide a safe and caring environment.

What do I have to offer students?

Hosts must be prepared to spend time with the student and display a friendly, flexible attitude. The student requires their own bedroom, bed, desk, chair, study-light, cupboard space and up to three meals per day. The accommodation offered to students will need to be clean, orderly and in good repair, and not currently being renovated. It must comply with current council building regulations, be properly furnished, within the family living area, and private.

How long do I have to host a student for?

This is up to you in discussion with your supervisor. Most initial placements are for four weeks except in the case of younger students who may stay for a school year. You are not obliged to take any student for periods longer than you agree to.

What support do I get from AHN?

The AHN community has access to full management support including a local supervisor during business hours and a 24/7 assistance line for emergencies that may happen after hours and at weekends.

What should I do before the student arrives?

Prepare the student’s room with fresh sheets and towels and make sure the room is properly aired. If it is hot, provide a fan. If it is cold make sure there is enough bedding and supply a heater if necessary. Purchase enough food for the first day or so making sure you have items for a lunch box.

In addition you can choose to familiarise yourself with the customs and culture of the country where the student is coming from so you can understand your student a little better from the beginning of their stay with you.

What should you do on the day that the student arrives?

Login to the AHN website and advise your supervisor that your student has arrived. Be available to greet your student and organise to be home for the day or have a family member stay with the student. Don’t greet the student, tell them to ‘help themselves’ and go to work. Students are young people, often away from home for the first time. They are nervous and have travelled for many hours. Even if they sleep they should not be left alone. Treat them as you would like your own family to be treated if they were travelling overseas. Ask if they would like to contact their parents by telephone to advise them that they have arrived safely. Offer them a drink and biscuit, show them their room and the bathroom facilities. Ask your student if they would like to take a shower and make them welcome generally. Later in the day take the opportunity to orientate the student to your home, explain mealtimes and introduce them to other family members.

What should you do in the first week that the student stays with you?

Login to the AHN website and complete your checklists. Confirm with the student that they are happy and can use the bus or train to their education provider, local shopping centre and your nearest city. Ask if they have made some friends and generally enquire as to their wellbeing. It is good practice to do this for the first two or three weeks.


Current Hosts

What should my student call me?

This is your choice. It can be formal i.e. Mr. or Ms. or casual i.e. your given name or simply Mum and Dad.

My student says they have no dirty washing but they have been here for a week.

You may have offered to do all your student’s washing but they prefer to do their own. Renegotiate with your student, remembering that female students will not want their underwear on public display. Explain current water restrictions.

My student is using too much water. Is it ok for me to ask them not to do this?

Yes, explain the current water restrictions in your area. Explain that it is not your decision but that of the local council.

I told my student to ‘help themselves’ to food but when I arrived home my student had eaten all the treats in the larder.

It is a good idea to keep a container with ‘snacks’ written on it so the student knows exactly what they can take. There can be two containers, one in the larder and one in the fridge.

I told my student to ‘help themselves’ because I was going out but when I arrived home they had not eaten.

Some students, especially when they are new to your household, will not do anything that they might get wrong. Consequently they will not take food or use equipment or help with washing up simply because they do not have the skill.

My student said on the Profile that they do not smoke, but I can smell it.

Students do not always admit to smoking because they know that in Australia it is not always acceptable. Show your student a place outside that is away from the home where they may smoke and give them a container for cigarette butts. Explain that it is their responsibility to keep the area clean and tidy. Explain they may not smoke in the home.

My student goes drinking with their friends and comes home intoxicated.

If your student is over 18 and is well behaved then it should not be a problem. However, if they are causing problems then speak with your AHN Supervisor. If they are under 18 alcohol is not permitted. If you are a household where alcohol is not acceptable then you should check your Profile to make sure you have indicated this.

My student does not want to help with the washing up after the evening meal.

It is possible that your student may not know how to wash up. It may be better to give them a different job to do e.g. clear the table or lay the table prior to the meal.

My student has questioned the ‘use by date’ on packaged and frozen food.

If you buy in bulk and freeze or you buy ‘specials’ always check the label is current. It is not advisable to give your student food passed the ‘used by’ date.

If I take my student out do I have to pay for them?

If you want to take your student out, explain where you are going and how much it will cost. Your student then has the opportunity to decide whether or not to go with you. Do not expect your student to pay for other members of the family. Many hosts are happy to include Under 18’s as part of the cost of family outings.

Is it ok for me to go in to my student’s room when they are not there.

Privacy is important. The student’s room should be private to them during their stay with you. If you plan to clean the room then let the student know when you will do this.

I think there is some money missing from my home (and/or items) and I think my student may be responsible.

Contact your 24 hour help line or supervisor in the first instance. It is better that you do not confront the student yourself.

I let my student use my computer but now they are using it all evening and I want to use it myself.

Communicate with your student about internet usage. This applies to telephones too.

My student is up nearly all night and disturbing the rest of the household.

Many students do this. Students from some countries sleep when they arrive home from school and speak to their friends on their mobiles during the night. Explain to your Student that they must be quiet and not disturb other people. If the behavior continues you may have to give them a time (say 9pm) when they must not make further calls.

My student leaves the light on all night which wastes electricity.

Most students do this because they fear spirits. It is best to buy a low wattage bulb or give them a night light.

My student does not get in to bed between the sheets.

When you orientate your student to your home explain that this is how you sleep in Australia. They may come from a country that has a different type of bed so they may not know how to make or use a bed in the same way.

My student says they are cold at night.

Check that they have enough bed linen but also check that they are getting in to bed under the covers (see above)

My student gets home before me each day and I cannot give them access because of our security system.

This is a difficult situation but one that has to be negotiated. You cannot expect a student to wait outside your home indefinitely.

What should you do if the student’s parents wish to stay?

This is your own decision. Be prepared for the fact that the parents may not speak any English. It is ok to say ‘no’ and ask that they stay in a motel nearby. You can then make arrangements to meet them or invite them to your home. If you agree to them staying and you plan to charge them make it clear to the student how much this will be and what it will cover. Make the family welcome and ask your student to translate for you.

My student asked if they may bring a girl/boy friend home to stay the night. I don’t want my student sleeping with a girl/boy friend in my home.

It is your home. Explain to your student that this is not acceptable in your home. However if your student has a friend and they would like to invite this friend to stay overnight i.e. at the weekend, then this should be arranged to suit all parties. Check with your student that their friend has let their Homestay host know. If in doubt please contact your supervisor for support.

My student does not come home for several days. They tell me they have a boy/girl friend but their parents want them to stay in homestay.

If this concerns you notify your AHN Supervisor and explain the situation.

What should you do when a student informs you they are leaving?

Ask them the exact date and advise your AHN supervisor so that any monies due can be finalised. Ask them for their forwarding address so you can send on any mail that arrives for them. Ask them how they will get to their new accommodation and assist them if they need help. This does not mean that you have to transport them but they may need assistance in calling a taxi or getting to the train or bus. There is no need to feel that they do not like you anymore or that you have done something wrong. Students are young people wanting to experience different situations. You can rest assured that when students move on it is because you have given them the confidence to do so.

What should you do on the day that a student leaves?

Make sure that the student has paid any outstanding balance of monies to the supervisor. Complete your checklist on the AHN website making sure you indicate that your home is free to receive another student if that is your wish.