Note: This policy is subject to change at any time. Please check all AHN Policies on a regular basis for updates.
This document outlines the procedure for placing AHN Guests with homestay Hosts. It will contain policies for placing the following Guests:
Over 18 Guests:
The following policy should be followed when placing Guests with homestay Hosts. The Guest’s profile should be checked against system-matched Hosts for suitability before confirming a placement. Guests must not be placed with a Host simply because it is convenient, the Guest’s profile should be checked against available Hosts for issues including the following:
If ‘special needs’ has been highlighted every care and precaution should be taken and confirmation sought from the Host that they can meet the Guest’s requirements. Guests will have preferences, which may or may not be accommodated at the time of matching. While it is desirable to meet Guest’s needs, be aware, that some homestay Guests may have overly high or specific expectations. Guests may make requests such as ‘I want to be able to walk to my school’ or ‘I want my own bathroom’. In these cases, it must be explained to the homestay Guest that while the program may not have available homestay Hosts meeting these criteria, there are other suitable households available.
The number of Guests placed with one homestay Host should be limited. If there are multiple Guests present in one household, they will not gain full exposure to Australian culture and language. There are also legal implications to having multiple Guests in a household. A Host may only accommodate a maximum of 3 Guests at any time; this includes Guests from other homestay service providers. The exception to this would be if the household is exceptionally large with adequate living space and bathrooms to accommodate additional guests. AHN will use strict guidelines when making this decision to approve the fourth bedroom. Specific institution expectations regarding the maximum number of guests will be adhered to.
It is very important that Guests not be placed with another Guest who speaks the same language. This will limit growth of the Guests’ language skills and work against one of the important aims of homestay. An exception to the rule may be when Guests specifically request to be placed with a friend or a relative, or in the case of underage Guests who may request to be placed with someone of their own culture or language background, where possible.
Once a placement has been confirmed a detailed placement report will be sent to the Guest and the Host.
Under 18 Guests:
Education providers must first sign a Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW or often referred to as a Welfare Letter) before a Guest can be issued with a study visa. A Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE) is issued at the same time. The Guest must be issued with the address of their Host prior to the issue of these documents and any changes recorded with their education provider. Where a Guest has applied for homestay and been informed of their Host’s address then the education provider takes responsibility for the Guest when signing the CAAW letter required prior to visa issue.
The CAAW must start from the date of commencement of the Guest’s COE and end seven days after the end of the Guest’s course. As Guests may not be permitted to travel to Australia before their welfare arrangements are in place, the CAAW should provide appropriate time (usually seven days) prior to the commencement of the Guest’s course to allow them to come to Australia and settle into their accommodation. The Guest must abide by these dates and negotiate with their education provider for an extension of the CAAW if they plan to arrive more than one week prior to the start date.
Homestay Hosts are not legal guardians for their Guest and do not have any parental responsibilities towards a Guest. Hosts have no right to sign any legal documents, such as a visa application, on the Guest’s behalf. If the Guest remains in Australia and does not make an application for a further visa, the visa will cease and they may be located and removed from Australia by the Department of Home Affaris (DHA). The AHN community is not responsible if a Guest does not leave the country.
All Hosts accepting under 18 Guests must have a valid Working with Children Check. Details of State and/or Territory requirements are available at https://aifs.gov.au/cfca/publications/pre-employment-screening-working-children-checks-and-police-checks/part-overview. All applicable members of the Host’s household must have completed this screening prior to the placement commencing.
Regular counselling must be offered to the Guest whilst in homestay; this is generally done as part of the counselling responsibilities of the education provider. AHN will be in contact with the Host and Guest at regular intervals during the stay.
Guardianship companies can be utilised at the Guest’s request. There is a fee payable to the guardianship company for this service. The company liaises with the Host, AHN and the education provider to resolve minor issues. However, any critical incident must be reported to the appropriate authorities (police, welfare authorities) and the Guest’s education provider. Examples of a critical incident may include life threatening injury or illness, attempted suicide, mental health crisis, drug or alcohol overdose, physical abuse, sexual harassment/abuse, or the death of a student.
The Guest must have emergency access twenty-four hours/seven days a week or contact with their AHN local office. Generally, Guests under 18 years old need to have written requests to change anything about their educational contract (i.e. duration, provider, etc.). Different education providers will have rules in place relating to travel, overnight absences and changing accommodation, etc. Applicable state and federal laws must be obeyed regarding travel e.g. wanting to drive a car, motorbike or bicycle (licensed appropriately with seatbelts, helmets, etc.).
Study Tour Guests:
Study tour Guests arrive in groups, are enrolled in groups and generally stay together with the group for all activities. Some study tour Guests attend English language Intensive Courses for Overseas Guests (ELICOS) and some have holiday activities combined with their English course. Each education provider will be different.
The quotation agreed with each individual partner will dictate the method used for placing study tour Guests i.e. Host family/travel requirements, and the financial arrangement about the homestay fee. The tour coordinator will provide AHN with manual application forms and profiles for each Guest and AHN takes responsibility for entering the data into the system and setting up the study tour.
In addition to the policy for placing over 18 Guests, it is important to remember that study tour Guests can often have a lower level of English, depending where they are from. Consequently, it is important to place the Guests with Hosts who have been proven to have a high duty of care and the attitude and ability to communicate easily with Guests with a low level of English.
Travel should be straightforward and it is good practice to place Guests in one area (where possible), so that they may travel together on the train or bus. Should the numbers be too high to achieve this goal, pick several suburbs close together and place a few Guests in each suburb.
It is advisable to arrange for a suitable time and place for these Guests to be introduced to their Hosts and this is a good opportunity for the education provider and AHN representative to speak to all Hosts and Guests together and allay any fears the Guests might have regarding food or travel and to advise Hosts of the considerate use of the afterhours mobile telephone.
There are often more after-hours calls when these Guests arrive so it is important to have mechanisms in place for after-hours duties to be shared.
Changes or Cancellations:
All Guests must seek assistance from AHN if they are concerned about their homestay arrangement in any way or if they would like to request to change homestay Hosts. AHN will assess the request and if a transfer is approved a new Host and transportation will be arranged. The Guest may be required to pay for professional pick up service if required. In the case of Under 18 Guests, the education provider and DIAC must be informed of the new address. For Study Tour Guests, the tour group’s teacher/tour escort must be informed of the request to change homestay and notified of new homestay details if the Guest is transferred.
Please refer to the AHN Refund Policy for full details on how to change or cancel a homestay placement.
Reviewed: March 2022