FAQs for Au Pairs
1. What visa do I need to be an au pair in Australia?
To work as an au pair in Australia you need to hold a Working Holiday visa (subclass 417) https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/visa-1/417-/ or a Work and Holiday visa (subclass 462) https://www.homeaffairs.gov.au/trav/visa-1/462-. The visa that you need will be dependent on a number of factors but generally your country of origin/passport, age and reason for entry in Australia will determine whether you are eligible to apply for these visas. Please see the below table for some quick reference information on applying for these visas.
2. What is an au pair in Australia?
An au pair in Australia is generally a young traveller from abroad that wishes to experience life in an Australian family and provides an extra hand around the house with children, school pick ups and drop offs and assistance with some daily household tasks. Every arrangement varies but, most commonly, an au pair will be paid a sum of pocket money anywhere from $200.00 to $500.00 per week.
Au pairs can expect to have their own room (with a bed and perhaps a tv), access to a private bathroom, Netflix, Wi-Fi, a mobile phone, access to a motor vehicle (for use to carrying out driving duties and for personal use outside of working hours) and paid holidays. Each family and arrangement is different and a prospective au pair and host family will need to be clear as to their expectations and obligations so as to avoid any misunderstandings as to terms of the stay.
Staying with a host family in Australia as an au pair you will be expected to keep your room and bathroom neat and tidy as you would in your own home with your family. Generally all food and drink is provided for by the host family but if you have special items you wish to have you may have to purchase these at your own cost. Again, each family is different and this is a discussion that you should have when you are speaking with a prospective family. Engaging with the children and spending time with the family as a whole is something that is the most important aspect of being an au pair and can really provide for an exciting, enriching cultural experience for everyone!
3. What if I’m not happy in my host family?
It can be overwhelming for a young person from another country being so far away from their family and living with another. Sometimes issues can arise and it can seem uncomfortable to discuss these issues with your host family. It is ALWAYS best to be upfront if you are not happy. Cultural barriers can sometimes be the cause of misunderstandings and unless you speak up, your host family can’t help you. Communication at the beginning of a stay is so important when an au pair and prospective host family are discussing whether they are the right fit for one another. Make sure you speak up if you do not understand something or are unclear of your duties, particularly involving care of the children. Host families will always prefer being asked questions if you are unsure rather than doing something that they may consider inappropriate.
Before embarking on an au pair stay in Australia, make sure you have thought about what it means and why you are doing it. Families can see right through someone who is trying to take advantage of their hospitality if all you want to do is free accommodation in order to travel around Australia. Many families have contracts that both the au pair and a family can agree upon so that each party is aware of exactly what is needed from the other. Manuals can also be provided by families so that au pairs can be aware of how of a family runs and a routine for how they wish their children to be cared for.
Being an au pair in Australia can truly provide you with some wonderful experiences and memories with a family who treats you as one of their own. You can bond with their children and have the opportunity to see the beautiful country that Australia has to offer.
4. Things to do in Australia
Depending on what you are interested in seeing whilst being in Australia, there is plenty on offer for any traveller.
Melbourne – offering shopping, exquisite food and entertainment along the beautiful Yarra River, museums, massive sporting events, Taronga Zoo (just to name a few);
Sydney – take a stroll along the iconic Darling Harbour with stunning views of the Harbour Bridge, Opera House and the infamous Bondi Beach.
Brisbane – a short stroll to Southbank with home to the Queensland Gallery of Modern Art and Museum, only a short distance from the Gold and Sunshine Coasts, offering theme parks and water parks including Dreamworld, Seaworld, Movieworld, Wet N Wild , home to Australia Zoo (home to the Crocodile Hunter, the late Steve Irwin) not to mention sightseeing and hiking in the beautiful Glasshouse and Tamborine mountains.
Australia is home to many iconic natural landscapes to see and these include the Great Barrier Reef, the beautiful and sacred Uluru and the breathtaking views from taking a drive down the Great Ocean Road.
There a number of exotic and native animals in Australia to see up close and personal. You can cuddle koalas and feed kangaroos at a number of zoos and sanctuaries. Snorkelling in the Great Barrier Reef will provide you with the opportunity to see beautiful fish, stingrays, dolphins and many more. For the more adventurous thrill-seeker you can even swim (in cages) with sharks and crocodiles to get your heart racing!
Aside from the fun and exciting adventures that there are to be had in Australia, it is a country that embraces its visitors and makes you feel right at home so don’t wait too long to visit!
5. Emergency numbers in Australia
Sometimes accidents happen and you need the police, an ambulance or the fire department. Please see the below quick-reference guide to assist you.
Emergency (police, ambulance or fire brigade) – 000
Poisons Helpline (actual or suspected poisonings) – 13 11 26
Wildlife catchers for the home (snake in the house eg.) – 1300 264 625
FAQs for Host Families
1. How much to pay for pocket money?
This is a topic that is always being discussed in the various Australian host family forums. Every arrangement varies but, most commonly, an au pair will be paid a sum of pocket money anywhere from $200.00 to $500.00 per week. Of course, if you live remotely, you may need to offer more in order to entice au pairs, this may be done through the pocket money offered or perks for the au pair. Always remember to take into account how much you believe the room, bathroom, internet, phone, food and drink, electricity would be if the au pair was paying for these necessities whilst staying elsewhere and calculate that in connection with how much assistance you require with the care of your children and daily household chores.
2. Job description for au pair
An au pair in Australia is generally a young traveller from abroad that wishes to experience life in an Australian family and provides an extra hand around the house with children, school pick ups and drop offs and assistance with some daily household tasks.
Au pairs may expect to have their own room (with a bed and perhaps a tv), access to a private bathroom, Netflix, Wi-Fi, a mobile phone, access to a motor vehicle (for use to carrying out driving duties and for personal use outside of working hours) and paid holidays. Each family and arrangement is different and a prospective au pair and host family will need to be clear as to their expectations and obligations so as to avoid any misunderstandings as to terms of the stay.
Many families have contracts that both the au pair and a family can agree upon so that each party is aware of exactly what is needed from the other. Manuals can also be provided by families so that au pairs can be aware of how of a family runs and a routine for how they wish their children to be cared for. What may appear to be obvious and common sense for parents is not always so clear for a young traveller assisting with young children so just remember to clarify everything and always make them aware that you are approachable to any issues or questions that they wish to discuss.
3. Questions to ask whilst interviewing
It can seem daunting to Skype for the very first time with someone overseas and the topic of discussion is how they will fit in with your family and assist you with the care of your children. A good idea is to write down some questions that you believe to be important when getting to know someone so you can gauge their family environment and how they have grown up. Asking how many siblings they have, if they are close with their family, their hobbies, whether they have a partner, how they wish to spend their time in Australia can provide a great insight as to if they will fit into your family. Another great idea is to Skype with a prospective au pair’s family also to get an idea of the family dynamic. It can be a comfort for you as a host and it may also put the au pair’s parents minds at ease, especially when they are faced with the prospect of their child flying around the world to stay with another family.
The most important thing is to trust your instincts.
4. What if you’re not happy with your au pair arrangement?
Sometimes issues can arise and it can seem uncomfortable to potentially rock the boat and discuss these issues with your au pair. It is ALWAYS best to be upfront if you are not happy. Cultural barriers can sometimes be the cause of misunderstandings and unless you speak up, generally issues will multiply and the interaction with your au pair can become awkward and tense. Communication at the beginning of a stay is so important when an au pair and prospective host family are discussing whether they are the right fit for one another. Make sure that the au pair is absolutely clear as to what their duties and obligations are whilst being a part of your family. If an issue arises, a calm approach and sitting down to go over original discussions can be a great refresher.
Remember, parenting is a challenge for us at the best of times, we can forget that these young people who provide a great help to us don’t have all the answers as well and it can be overwhelming for them too!
5. How do I manage an induction period?
You want to ensure that an incoming au pair feels comfortable when they being their stay with your family. A nice touch is to have a gift ready for them (you could leave a basket of Australian goodies for them on their bed or if you Skype with their family you could get an idea of their favourite foods and have those stocked for them) and even just a few nice items in the bathroom for them can really put them at ease at a strange new place for them.
Letting them settle in and showing them around the house and how to use items is also very important. A nice meal to welcome them to the family is another nice touch on a first day/night. Hopefully your munchkins behave during this time and it can even be nice for your children to show an au pair around (particularly their favourite books and toys) your home.
If you have a current au pair still in the home there are advantages and disadvantages with having an incoming au pair being trained by an existing one. We would recommend that unless your current is a superstar that you are extremely close with, avoid having them train a newbie, they can pick up bad habits and sometimes can unfairly bad-mouth a host family.
Enjoy the time with this person that you are sharing your children’s time and space with. A great au pair will engage more with your children and provide them with much more attention than they would receive by being at daycare with a bunch of other kids. You are providing them with a great new friend to play with!