When should I apply?
We can match you with families throughout the year! Please submit your application 3+ months before you’d like to start. We may accept later applications.
How is COVID-19 affecting the program?
Our number one priority is your health and safety. In light of the circumstances surrounding COVID-19, no deposit is required until you’re accepted. If you can’t travel due to restrictions or other concerns related to COVID-19, we’ll refund your program fee.
What kind of child care-related experience do I need?
Your child care experience can include any kind of work where you’ve been responsible for children. This can include:
- Working as a camp counselor
You must show you have at least 200 hours of childcare experience with non-relatives. You’ll provide two childcare references. If you have additional childcare related certificates or educational degrees, please be sure to highlight this in your application.
Do my references need to be sent directly to InterExchange?
Most applicants collect their own references and upload them directly to their online InterExchange account. However, if your referrer would prefer to email them directly to us, please have them scan and send the form to our general email: email@example.com.
If I’m not matched with a family will I receive a refund?
In the unlikely event that we’re unable to place you, we’ll refund your deposit. We’ll keep you posted throughout the placement process.
Can I make a location request?
Yes! While we can’t guarantee a location, we’ll do our best. We tend to place most participants in the greater Sydney area, but also have host families near cities like Adelaide, Brisbane, and Melbourne and you get to decide if you’re comfortable with a particular family based on viewing their profile and/or speaking with them. Your location will partly depend on families available when you apply.
Do I need to be a driver?
Most Australian host families seek an au pair who can drive. If you aren’t able to drive, it may take a few weeks longer to find you a family match.
How does the host family matching process work?
Our Australian partner has an online matching system. You’ll see families that are interested in speaking with you. We’ll provide an interview guide so you can make the most of your video calls to find the right fit.
The host family matching process can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks (sometimes longer if you applied more than three months in advance).
What are host families like?
Most host families live in the suburbs of major cities such as Adelaide, Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne, and Sydney. All families must submit an application and are screened by our Australian partner agency.
How many hours of childcare will I provide each week?
You’ll provide up to 35 hours of childcare per week. When you connect with a potential host family, you’ll have a chance to talk about the weekly schedule and expectations upfront.
Can I be placed with or close to a friend?
We generally aim to have au pairs placed with hosts in the greater Sydney area so it’s usually not hard to place two au pairs in that region. That being said, this partially depends on you matching with two host families in the same area. Families can only host one au pair at a time.
What if issues arise with my host family after I’m abroad?
Being an au pair involves a unique working and living relationship with a host family, over an extended length of time. It’s possible that at some point you may experience some form of miscommunication, or even a disagreement. Typically, with proactive communication and sensitivity, it’s not difficult to resolve these things together with your hosts.
However, don’t hesitate to contact our Australian partner for help—they’re professionals and love hearing from au pairs, no matter the reason! If things really are not working out, they’ll work with you regarding the possibility of a rematch with a new family, subject to availability.
Can I take college classes while on the program?
Your visa allows you to take classes for up to 4 months. If you’re certain you’d like to take classes, we recommend having a chat about this with your host family so they’re aware of your plans, and can make additional arrangements for their children if necessary.
Can I stay for just 6 months?
That’s totally fine! A lot of people do this but if you like, you can travel afterwards on your own. Your visa is good for a full year so there’s plenty of time to explore. It also allows you to take on seasonal jobs, in case you want to try something a little different after your au pair program.
How do I match with another family after my first 6 months in Australia?
Just let our partner know via email, phone, or by stopping into their office. We suggest informing them within a few months into your first placement. They’ll simply re-activate your online profile and put you back into matching—exactly how we found your first family, but with no additional cost.
Do I need a visa?
Yes, we’ll provide visa application instructions once your placement with a family is confirmed.
What does the visa process entail?
You’ll apply for the Work and Holiday Visa (subclass 462), which allows you to work and travel in Australia for up to 12 months (with a second-year visa option possible under certain circumstances). The visa is available for 18 to 30 year olds from select countries. Getting the visa is typically a quick and straightforward online process, but we’ll provide information after you’re matched with a family and if you have questions you can always contact us.
In order to apply for the visa you’ll need:
- a valid U.S. passport
- a high school diploma
- to be in reasonably good health
- to agree to have travel medical insurance before you travel
You may also be asked to demonstrate that you have access to funds for general expenses while in Australia. If so, you may wish to include proof that you will be supported by a host family as an au pair, which significantly reduces your cost of living.
Visa fee: currently AUD $485 (paid directly to Australian Immigration)
When are the arrival orientations? Can I arrive at a different time?
For placements starting in 2020, orientations are canceled due to COVID-19, so you may arrive any time. You’ll arrange your specific arrival and departure dates with your host family.
For placements starting in 2021, our partner will offer several arrival orientations throughout the year. If you can’t arrive during one of those orientations, that’s okay. Our Australian partner hosts optional meet-ups throughout the year where you can connect with them in-person and meet other au pairs!
Are there resources to help start my program?
You’ll receive InterExchange’s Child Care Guide, Activities Guide, and Home Orientation Guide before departing the U.S. Upon arrival in Australia, you’ll attend a three-night orientation where you’ll get tips about living and au pairing in Australia. You’ll also meet dozens of other participants, who form a support network while abroad!
Will I have a contract listing my hours and pay?
You’ll receive a host family invitation listing their contact information, your stipend, your program duration, and the program stipulations. Both parties will be required to electronically sign this document upon successful matching.
Will I have vacation time?
You’ll have two full days off per week. Vacation time is not included. If you’d like to take a bit of time to travel, you’ll need to discuss this with your host family in advance. Most families are amenable to this after you’ve been on the program for a while. If you’re doing a six-month placement, you can always travel once your program ends since your visa is valid for 12 months.
Do I need an international driver’s permit?
If your host family needs you to drive, you will need to obtain an International Driver’s Permit. You should apply for this at the time of host family placement as it can take a few days/weeks to process.
There are two State Department-designated international drivers license distributors: the AAA and AATA. You may use either of these organizations to obtain your International Driving Permit. The cost is about $20.
How do I obtain the required background check in Australia?
Commonly referred to as “The Working with Children Check” (WWCC), this is required of all people in Australia (Australians and foreigners alike) who plan to work with children in any capacity. Each state has their own WWCC procedure, so you’ll apply for this in Australia after you know your host family’s location. Our international partner will contact you within your first week in Australia with information on how to apply. Fees for the Working with Children Check may vary between AUD $70 and $120.
Do all families pay in cash?
Many families pay cash, although if there is another way you’d prefer to receive your stipend, let your host family know. If you open a bank account (which is usually free, you just need to provide some proof of identity, such as your passport), your host family may be able to deposit your stipend directly into your account. If you’d like to change your money into U.S. dollars, you should be able to do so at any large bank.
Should I bring my U.S. phone with me?
You could simply use your existing phone with a local SIM card purchased in Australia (check with your U.S. carrier to make sure your phone allows this), or purchase a relatively inexpensive phone just for your time in Australia. In either case, you’ll probably want to set up a local phone plan. If you’re planning to contact people back home, you could also use your existing device with wifi for free apps such as WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger. Check-out these tips on staying in touch while traveling.
Do I need to buy a roundtrip flight?
Although it’s not legally necessary, it’s generally more cost efficient to book a roundtrip rather than two, one-way tickets. However, if you’d simply like to purchase a one-way ticket going into Australia and then purchase your return ticket at a later date, this is totally acceptable as well. Please confirm with the airline that they’ll allow you to board with a one-way ticket before purchasing this option.
Will I be able to connect with other au pairs in Australia?
Absolutely! Unless your logistics don’t allow it (you can’t arrive during one of the orientation dates), you’ll start your program with a three-night orientation in Sydney with other au pairs. We’ll also connect you with other au pairs in Australia at the time of your program and invite you to a Facebook group specifically for au pairs in Australia. Our Australian partner will also help you connect with their special Meet and Greet program held all around the country.
Why do I have to pay a program fee?
Program fees make it possible for us to promote our programs and pay staff to review applications and provide support, including placing you in a vetted host family and providing in-country support.
InterExchange is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization, so we aim to keep program costs as low as possible for participants. If you have any questions about the fee for your program please don’t hesitate to contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.