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Advocating Transparent, Consistent Welfare Standards in Homestay

The Australian Homestay Network (AHN) firmly believes welfare arrangements for international students are paramount for a strong and robust industry. We believe that standards of care across the sector need to be transparent, accountable and consistent.

The Facts

  • “Unsatisfactory welfare arrangements” is one of the top five risks listed in the Knight Review (2011) – a strategic review of Australia’s student visa program.
  • Standard 5 of the National Code of Practice (2007) is very broad and is left open to interpretation by each individual education provider. As a result there is a wide variance of standards in relation to care and welfare for international students.
  • Students under the age of 18 are our most vulnerable group and need to be protected. Independent advocates (not employed by education provider or accommodation provider or student agent) need to be exactly that – independent – to ensure the student is represented without favour or bias.

The Solution

We believe the following standards should be adopted as the National bench mark for care and welfare of international students.

Students under the age of 18

  1. Access to an online portal, which allows education providers the ability to access, audit and monitor the following information:
  • Full contact details of student, home stay address, host contact details, student mobile number, student e-mail
  • Full contact details of the parents, home address, home, work and mobile contact numbers, home and work e-mail (critical incident response)
  • Full guardian details, name, contact number, image of working with children check card, blue card or clearance letter issued by the relevant state authority
  • Details of each contact between guardian and student, summarising type of contact (phone or in person), date and time.
  1. Compulsory Insurance
  • Guardian service to maintain national professional indemnity and public liability insurance to cover duty of care for company employees, agents and sub-contractors engaged by the guardian service to provide services to students
  • Copies of certificates of currency to be provided to education provider
  • Recommended minimum cover is $5,000,000 public liability and $10,000,000 professional indemnity
  1. Confirmed Training
  • Documented training
  • Online portal with mechanism to monitoring performance of each guardian, sub-contractor or agent providing services to students
  1. Legal and Binding Contracts
  • Guardian service to ensure all employees, agents, sub-contractors have legally binding contracts ensuring they will abide by standards of service
  • Guardian service to sign agreement with education provider confirming compliance to set standards and service delivery
  1. Documented Approach
  • Guardian service to provide parents with documentation outlining services provided, cost of service, refund policy and process
  • Signed copy of parents agreement to be available online for education providers to view if required
  • Online access for the education provider to reports, letters of permission, travel itineraries other documents relevant to student
  • Online access recording all contacts with guardian, student, parents, education provider or other party relating to the student.
  1. Independent Process
  • Guardian to be independent (not employed by the education provider, not the homestay host or employed by homestay provider, not the education agent or employed by the education agent)
  1. 24/7 Emergency support and critical incident response
  • Provide access to a professional 24/7 emergency response line for critical incident management and response if required
  1. Accountable and Transparent Payments
  • Online access to all invoices, creating an environment that is accountable and transparent

All International Students

AHN also believes all international students regardless of age should have access to an independent advocate to represent them if required. This service should be free to all international students, the cost of maintaining the service should be incorporated into the student’s annual fees (Approximately $6 per annum per international student).

Services provided by independent advocate should include 24/7 independent representation and personal consultation in relation to:

  • Critical Incidents
  • Legal advice referral
  • Cultural awareness and integration
  • Counselling
  • Work rights/Fair work
  • Tenancy/accommodation and housing
  • Transport
  • Safety and Security
  • Telecommunications (telephone/internet), pre-paid and contracts
  • Visa and migration referral
  • Health insurance
  • Education providers
  • Travel

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Very happy we are all getting along famously. Joshua has really fitted well in with our family. Same birthday has my husband, he is a wonderful boy and we are going to really miss him. His parents should be very proud of him. Looking forward to more hosting. Joshua has developed a wonderful bond with our 5 year old Oliver.