Frequently Asked Questions
Do all international students speak English?
English proficiency will vary from student to student. Some students are required to undertake an Intensive Secondary English Course (ISEC), whilst others will go straight into mainstream schooling. Either way, students will improve their English by having daily conversations with their homestay families. Patience, kindness and respect will be necessary as you work on developing communication strategies with each other.
Can I request certain nationalities or a certain gender?
Yes. You can specify your preferences on your Homestay Application form when you apply and update this information at any time.
Can I host male and female international students at the same time?
Male and female international students must not reside in the same homestay. Exceptions may be made for siblings and other related students (e.g. cousins) if requested by the students’ parents and pending availability.
Home and Family
Do I need to live near a school to become a homestay?
There are over 100 accredited government schools that offer programs to international students. As students are expected to travel to and from school independently, homestay families do need to live reasonably close to the school that their student is attending. Students are expected to travel no longer than 40 minutes each way to get to and from school. Contact IES to find out if there is an accredited school near you.
Can I be a homestay if I have pets?
Yes. Information about pets will be added to your profile. If the circumstances of your pets change, please ensure you inform our office in a timely manner so that your details can be updated. Some students may be afraid or allergic to pets so will not be able to be placed in your home.
Can I replace the DCSI clearance with other clearances I already have?
No, clearances such as SAPOL Check, National Police Check, Catholic Schools Police Check cannot be accepted. The only clearance that we are able to accept is the Child Related Employment Screening via the Department for Communities and Social Inclusion (DCSI).
Do I need to cook for my student?
Most homestay families will expect that their student prepares their own breakfast each morning. Lunches can either be prepared by the homestay parents or the student, depending on the types of meals that are being offered and the lifestyle you lead. Dinner should be prepared by the homestay family and eaten together as a family. It is important to discuss with your student what foods they like and dislike when they first arrive. Homestay families are not expected to serve the food of the student’s country; however, a sudden change of diet can contribute to homesickness and/or physical illness.
What if my student has special dietary requirements?
Some students will have dietary requirements (e.g. vegetarian, gluten free, lactose free), however, you can specify when you apply if you are willing to host students with special dietary needs. Students who require specialised foods to cater for specific diets may be asked to purchase certain items themselves. If you are concerned about how expensive or difficult a specialised diet is to cater for, speak with your IES accommodation officer who will be able to provide advice and support in handling such issues.
How do homestay families get paid?
Students enrolled in the High School Graduate Program (1-5 years) are expected to pay their homestay fees directly to you. Students enrolled in the Study Abroad Program (1-4 terms) will have their homestay fee payment managed by IES, meaning you will receive fortnightly payments directly into your bank account.
How many students can I host before I have to pay taxes?
The Australian Taxation Office provides an interpretive decision on this matter however the decision clearly states that the ‘record is not published as a form of advice’ and it also provides guidance on applying the decision to one’s individual circumstances. Ultimately it is recommended that you obtain further advice from the Tax Office or from a professional adviser.
Can I make a profit hosting?
The Homestay Program is not intended to be an income generator for families. The weekly homestay allowance is expected to cover the costs associated with accommodating your student.
Is internet usage included in the weekly homestay fee?
Internet access is not covered by homestay fees and students should be made aware of any extra charge for internet use, as this service fee may not be common in their home country. If you allow your student to access your internet connection, it is recommended that you charge no more than $10 per week.
Can I charge my students for use of extra household amenities?
The aim of our homestay program is to make students feel a part of the family. Charging students to use existing home facilities such as pool, exercise equipment etc can cause them to feel isolated and unwelcome. We do not allow families to charge such costs within our program.
Do I need to pick my student up from the airport when they arrive?
Yes, homestay families are expected to greet students at the airport when they arrive.
Do I need to accompany my student to their enrolment meeting?
Homestay families are encouraged to attend enrolment meetings with their students. Initial enrolment details will be provided on the student placement letter that you receive from IES; further details will be provided to you at the airport.
Do I need to provide transportation to and from school for my student?
Most international students will be able to manage public transport on their own once they are settled and familiar with their surroundings. You will need to show your student what routes to take for the first few times they travel to and from school. Before you allow your student to travel to school on their own, make sure they have a mobile phone so that they can contact you if they miss their bus/train or get lost.
How do I support my student in their studies?
We encourage homestay parents to support your student’s school program in the following ways:
- accompany your student to their enrolment meeting on their first day at school
- provide a signed note in the student diary for legitimate lateness, early dismissal or absenteeism, giving the reason
- complete consent forms for camps, excursions and other school activities
- attend parent-teacher nights or other school activities as appropriate
- complete travel and short stay forms as required
Does someone need to be home with the student at night?
Students can be left at home for short periods of time at night providing they feel safe and comfortable. However, students should not be left at home overnight on their own.
What do I do if I need a break or want to go on a holiday?
Please contact your accommodation officer as soon as you have travel plans so that alternative accommodation arrangements can be made for your student. In the event that respite is required, please call IES on (08) 82263402 to discuss your options with an IES accommodation officer.
What if I need to travel for an emergency?
If you need to leave your student at home alone overnight, please notify your IES accommodation officer urgently on (08) 82263402, so alternative accommodation arrangements can be made.
What if it doesn’t work out?
While every effort is made to make the ‘perfect match’ of student and homestay, there are occasions when either the homestay or the student requests a change.If you are unhappy, seek support from your IES accommodation officer or the international support staff at your student’s school. You will never be obligated to persist with a placement that is not working for you.
Does my student need to give two weeks’ notice before moving to a new homestay?
Any change of homestay must be negotiated with and organised by an IES accommodation officer. Where a change of homestay is required / arranged, it is not always possible or practical to give the homestay 2 weeks’ notice that their student will be moving. The IES accommodation officer will always try and negotiate the ‘moving date’ to coincide with the day the next homestay payment is due i.e. the end of the ’paid period’. Please contact IES on (08) 82263402 immediately if a student moves from your home without involvement from IES.