AHN Code of Conduct for U18s in Homestay
Note: This policy is subject to change at any time. Please check all AHN Policies on a regular basis for updates
IMPORTANT: Australian Homestay Network will always defer to the required policies and procedures of the governing education provider in any matters where the governing education provider policy conflicts with any AHN policy or the AHN policy fails to mention the requirement.
This document outlines AHN’s official code of conduct for Under 18 Guests in AHN placements. All stakeholders have, in some way, power and influence in the homestay process and therefore each stakeholder has a responsibility to be aware and to meet some standard of ethical conduct.
This document is to be used as a guideline to meet standard requirements for providing pastoral care to international Guests under 18 years of age. It promotes and enhances the conduct of the education provider and Australian Homestay Network (AHN) staff in performing their duties in a collegial environment.
Accommodation for international Guests is managed by AHN. The education provider and AHN work together to provide supportive homestay experiences for Guests.
This document contains a checklist for each key stakeholder to follow to ensure that they comply with the Homestay Programme Guidelines. Because of the diversity of stakeholders involved in homestay study programmes at the education provider, the code is presented across four general stakeholder areas:
- Education provider staff
- International Guests in homestay
- Homestay providers/Hosts
1) Education Provider Staff
AHN works with a variety of homestay Hosts, made up of both traditional and non-traditional families from different cultural backgrounds. AHN does not discriminate against family makeup when accepting or declining Hosts.
A staff member at the education provider may be appointed to provide ongoing support to homestay Guests as necessary and may:
- Work with AHN to advise homestay Guests of the expectations of homestay by means of orientation, written documents and information, orientation sessions as well as email information.
- Work with AHN to ensure all Guests are placed in appropriate families.
- Follow up with AHN regarding any complaints made by homestay Guests.
- Respect and be responsive to the beliefs and diversity of cultural requirements of homestay Hosts and homestay Guests by providing alternative accommodation as soon as possible if it is believed that the welfare of the Guest or Host may be at risk.
- Staff may need to provide ongoing support for homestay Guests as necessary and ensure that all parties are aware of the wide range of support services available within the education provider and provided through the International Centre, Health Services, Counselling Services, Sexual Harassment Contact Network and Grievance Resolution procedures.
- Interact effectively and cooperatively with other departments within and outside the institution.
- Act openly and professionally in all dealings with homestay Hosts.
- Ensure that the confidentiality of homestay Hosts and Guests is preserved under the terms of Privacy and Discrimination Acts.
- Ensure that AHN provide homestay management services appropriate to the role and level of service they are providing (including demonstrable ability in meeting the specific needs of international Guests).
Under the ESOS Act 2000, the National Code of Ethics for Registration Authorities and Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students, must ensure that upon arrival, international Guests have access to information or counselling services in the following areas: orientation, academic progress, further study and accommodation and welfare arrangement for Guests.
- The education provider should be aware of the international Guests’ needs and have processes in place to support and assist them.
- The education provider must support the social and psychological needs of international Guests that include:
- Access to appropriate counselling services
- Training and support of homestay providers
- Sensitive management of internal and external grievance processes
- The education provider is responsible for all aspects of pastoral care for their international Guests from the point of landing in Australia or the agreed date of transfer from another signatory, to the end of the contract for enrolment.
- The education provider needs to be aware of cultural and religious differences of Guests. For example, Muslim Guests will have practices relating to food, food preparation, storage, drink, religious observances and dress that need to be respected and accommodated.
- The education provider should ascertain if a Guest has any health conditions that may affect their study or require treatment. Homestay Hosts need to be advised of any relevant health problems of Guests in their care.
Privacy of Guest Information
- Personal information of any Guest is subject to the Privacy Act; the provision of which prohibits the disclosure of any personal information or details. The education provider must ensure that all personal information, as defined in the Privacy Act, is obtained, stored and released in accordance with the Privacy Act.
- The education provider is required to establish communication arrangements with the parents/guardian of international Guests. ‘Establishing communication arrangements’ means the education provider must arrange a way to contact parents/guardian in case of an emergency and for ongoing liaison concerning the Guests’ welfare. It is vital that there is a way of contacting the parents/guardian at short notice.
- The education provider is required to advise international Guests of the accommodation options available to them.
- The education provider may document which category of accommodation each Guest is living in and ensure that the applicable monitoring and follows-up takes place.
- The education provider must ensure that their homestay providers have a full understanding of their obligations to the signatory and any accommodation agent. This means the education provider must clearly set out the different responsibilities of providers and agents and advise each what their responsibilities are.
- The education provider may have stringent procedures for all aspects / areas of the homestay programme such as a process for assessing, selecting and approving prospective homestay providers and processes for the ongoing monitoring of the providers. These procedures may shape the placement guidelines agreed between the education provider and AHN.
2) Australian Homestay Network (AHN)
Code of Ethics
When arranging homestay accommodation for international Guests AHN will:
- Provide homestay Hosts with rigorous training to ensure they are familiar with the processes and procedures relating to homestay, education and Guest culture.
- Offer ongoing support to both Hosts and Guests throughout the homestay process, including access to 24/7 emergency phone line.
- Interview all Hosts and provide a detailed orientation of the expectations / requirements of the programme.
- Review all registered homestays regularly.
- Place each Guest in a safe and suitable home, which is to the best the staff knowledge, a “best match” for the Guest.
- Identify any personal prejudices and biases and promote awareness and an adherence to ethical standards.
- Accept flexibility of regulations and communication practices that may be necessary to meet the diverse and variable needs of international Guests.
- Adhere to the Discrimination Act 1991 (ACT) as at http://www.legislation.act.gov.au/a/1991-81/default.asp and all discriminatory practices including but not limited to race, age, gender, ethnicity, disability, socio-economic and sexual preference or religion.
- Adhere to the Education and Training Reform Act 2006 (Ministerial Order No. 870 – Child Safe Standards – Managing the Risk of Child Abuse in Schools).
- Keep all possible communications open, honest and appropriate to the situation.
- Maintain clear communication with the education provider on all homestay related matters.
- Act with sensitivity and discretion and ensure crisis management processes are in place in time of grief and trauma.
- Have access to opportunities for professional development to ensure homestay care knowledge is current and meeting the needs of international Guests.
- Maintain the confidentiality of homestay Hosts and international Guests’ right to privacy under the terms of Privacy and Discrimination Acts.
- Encourage respect for the law and systems of Australia.
- Ensure each applicable member of the host family has received appropriate government documentation stating they are cleared to work with underage children and monitor the respective expiry dates. Each state’s regulations can be found here.
- Ensure all Guests are placed in appropriate families and ensure appropriate guardianship arrangements are in place.
- Monitor the number of household residents and Guests in the home.
- Maintain adequate payment records.
- Follow up any complaint made by homestay Guests / Hosts as soon as possible.
- Respect and be responsive to the beliefs and diversity of cultural requirements of homestay Hosts and homestay Guests by providing alternative accommodation as soon as possible if it is believed that the welfare of the Guest, or Host, may be at risk.
- Provide ongoing support for homestay Hosts and Guests as necessary and ensure that all parties are aware of the wide range of support services available through the education provider.
3) Homestay Students
Code of Ethics
- Students need to be encouraged to communicate in an honest and respectful way to ensure positive relationship is developed with their Hosts. Relationships should be built on mutual trust and open communication. Disguising a problem to ‘save face’ is not the best way to deal with the problem.
- Students should be educated on acceptable levels of hospitality and not take advantage of the generosity offered by families.
- Students should be enabled to take responsibility for their own practices and needs.
- Students under the age of 18 must be aware of their visa requirements as definitive rules and restrictions apply to their movements and lifestyle.
Good Conduct Guidelines
The Guest will be expected to:
- Be financially independent; pay the homestay fee as arranged with AHN and any extra mid-year vacation homestay fees or holding fees as per policy. He / she must meet all personal expenses for travel, entertainment, telephone calls, medical expenses and other personal and incidental costs.
- Respect and adhere to guidelines / rules for living in the household as given by the homestay family which include conditions such as no smoking, no alcohol, spending no longer than 10 minutes in the shower and leaving the bathroom tidy.
- Smoking and consumption of alcohol are prohibited for all Guests under 18 years of age.
- Consumption of illicit drugs is prohibited as per state laws.
- Offer to help with minor household chores such as washing up and keeping their bedroom clean and tidy.
- Be considerate and keep noise to a minimum after 8.30pm.
- Ask the family before inviting friends over.
- Follow the correct approval process as required by the education provider and AHN for any overnight stays. Contact AHN if these processes are unclear.
- Advise homestay families about social activities and if meals will be missed.
- If Guests damage any property within the home, they must report it immediately to their host family so replacement options can be discussed.
- Keep all valuables, money, passport and airline tickets in a safe place.
- Maintain clear communication with the education provider on all homestay matters.
- Behave appropriately and be prepared to participate in reasonable family activities.
- Respect and be aware that cultural differences and beliefs of the homestay family may differ from their own.
- Communicate with the homestay Host on a regular basis. Students should be open about their needs/wants (within reason).
- Advise the education provider immediately of any concerns for their health or welfare which may arise in the homestay environment.
- Adhere to the guidelines set down by the education provider, for example, orientation for Guests and other advice given about the homestay programme.
- Be aware and abide by the laws of Australia and the rules of your education provider.
- Adhere to relevant AHN Policies including the Guest Agreement and Homestay Policy.
4) Homestay Hosts
Code of Ethics
Homestay Hosts are expected to:
- Develop positive relationships with Guests which are based on mutual trust and communication.
- Make Guests aware of their “House Rules” and ensure they are explained to each Guest. House rules should also be displayed somewhere, for example, on the fridge or given to the Guest as a printout.
- Acknowledge each Guest will be different and have their own strengths and weaknesses.
- Support and assist Guests to live comfortably within a foreign environment.
- Respect the Guests’ right to privacy whilst realising that privacy does not equate to isolation.
- Acknowledge the significance of culture, customs, language and beliefs in the life of their Guest and accommodate these appropriately.
- Assist, support and nurture where needed or requested, but keep in mind that a desire to please may be interpreted as interfering by the Guest.
- Ensure appropriate Working With Children checks are current at all times and notify AHN in advance of any overnight visitors or new residents coming into the home so that appropriate action can be taken.
- Adhere to the AHN Sexual Harassment and Abuse Prevention Policy.
Good Conduct Guidelines
The homestay Host will be expected to:
- Provide a safe environment that will offer the Guest a total experience of living as a member of an Australian family and which encourage positive study habits.
- Provide the Guest with a private, clean, and warm/cool bedroom (depending on the season); good healthy food; laundry facilities; and a supportive environment. Meals should be provided as per the AHN product selected and paid for by the Guest. At least one meal per day should consist of meat/protein, vegetables and rice/noodles.
- Offer help, guidance, support and encouragement with language practice and adapting to living in Australia (this may require patience and empathy and a willingness to show the Guest more than once).
- Provide an orientation within the family home and explanation of the “House Rules” e.g. use of the pool area, house facilities and security systems. Applicable house rules should be explained i.e. what time dinner is, telephone/internet protocols, no smoking, no alcohol, guests visiting, curfews, household tasks and bathroom conduct.
- Hosts of Guests under the age of 18 are responsible for monitoring and controlling appropriate and reasonable internet usage in the home.
- Offering interest in the cultural background of the Guest can assist in building a strong relationship between Guest and Host.
- Respect the Guests’ need for privacy and allow them space to be alone.
- Adapt a “duty of care” approach towards their homestay Guest.
- Only provide single room accommodation. A Guest is not to share a room with another student or with a member of the family, unless specifically requested through the AHN product offering or required by the education provider.
- Liaise with AHN regarding any concerns or difficulties.
- Notify AHN of any change of circumstances in the household.
- Be responsive to the cultural differences and beliefs of the homestay Guest by allowing them to continue familiar cultural practices without criticism.
- Adhere to guidelines set down by the education provider.
- Adhere to relevant AHN policies including the Host Agreement and Homestay Policy.
Reviewed: September 2022