Frequently Asked Questions by Host Families
WHAT IS HOMESTAY?
Homestay involves the provision of accommodation, meals and a caring, safe, nurturing environment to International students studying in Perth.
WHO DOES TALKABOUT TOURS ACCEPT AS HOSTS?
Traditional families, non-traditional families, single people, roommates and friends living together – any person or group who is willing to share daily life with an international guest can be a host. The only requirements are that you:
- Speak clear and correct English in your home (even if it isn’t your native language)
- Have a clean, private, comfortable bedroom for your guest
- Welcome and include an international guest in your home life
DO THE STUDENTS SPEAK ENGLISH?
Almost all students will will have had some English training but their proficiency will vary. Remember though, their goal is to improve these skills through homestay and having conversations with you. You will need to be patient, curious, kind and respectful, especially at first as you navigate new communication.
WHAT IS EXPECTED OF ME?
As a Host you need to provide the student with their own furnished bedroom, access to laundry facilities and a quiet area to study. Homestay also needs to provide breakfasts (these can be on a “prepare yourself” basis) a substantial cooked dinner (meat and vegetables) and lunch (prepare yourself basis) on weekends. Weekday lunches are occasionally required but this is by prior arrangement and extra remuneration is provided. Hosts must be prepared to spend time talking to their students particularly over the dinner table, this is especially important to students learning English when they arrive. Remember though, their goal is to improve these skills through homestay and having conversations with you. You will need to be patient, curious, kind and respectful, especially at first as you navigate new communication.
WHAT AM I EXPECTED TO SUPPLY?
- A private, furnished room with a window, a bed, wardrobe, drawers and bedside light
- A desk in the bedroom or a quiet area in the home for study
- Adequate heating and cooling
- Utilities (gas and electricity)
- Meals- A substantial dinner, breakfasts and lunch on weekends
- Communal sundries such as toilet paper and soap and basic items such as light bulbs.
- Linen and towels Laundry access
- Television access
- Internet access. This is very important for students. Student access is generally limited to emails and for study purposes – not streaming or downloading movies.
- A safe, friendly, caring environment
WHAT AM I NOT EXPECTED TO SUPPLY?
- Weekday lunches unless by prior or private arrangement
- Personal toiletries
WHAT SHOULD I EXPECT FROM STUDENTS I AM HOSTING?
Students are expected to respect the family they are staying with and abide by your house rules. It is a good idea to let them to let them know your meal times, security procedures, washing schedule etc. when they first arrive. Just as you are expected to treat students as part of the family, students are expected to act as a member of the family and keep their room tidy and help around the house just as any family member would. It is hoped that students will join in with family activities, have dinner with their Hosts and not lock themselves away in their rooms. This can’t be enforced, only encouraged. Students are expected to let you know if they won’t be home for dinner or will be staying out overnight. They are not allowed to bring friends home without your permission.
HOW MUCH DO I GET PAID?
This depends on the meals option chosen but typically you will receive $280 – $285/wk depending on duration for students who are over 18 which includes all meals except weekday lunches. The rate goes up with underage students or if weekday lunches are included. If you are not providing meals, $180 per week is standard. Talkabout Tours will pay you for the duration of the student’s stay, weekly into your nominated bank account.
HOW LONG BEFORE I HAVE A STUDENT PLACED IN MY HOME?
Once you complete the application, interview, and background checks and are a certified host, we begin the process of matching you to the right guest. This can happen right away or could take months, depending on demand in your area and what students match with your lifestyle and preferences. We are busiest from June to September and January to March.
WHAT SHOULD I COOK FOR MY STUDENTS?
Ultimately, they are here to experience Australia, therefore should be eating the everyday foods you prepare in your home. Some guests will be very easy-going about food and others will have a harder time adapting or will just be pickier eaters. You’ll need to figure this out through conversation and observation. In time, you’ll find some go-to favourites and you can also invite your guest to cook with you. It will be fun, you’ll learn new dishes, and you’ll get used what your guest likes and doesn’t.
WHAT IF MY STUDENT DOESN’T LIKE MY COOKING?
Some guests will eat anything and some are very picky. But don’t worry, If your guest isn’t connecting with the food in your house, offer to take them to the store with you so they can pick out things they like. You can also invite them to teach you to cook a dish they enjoy or help them find recipes and local ethnic markets if they are new to cooking, but just miss the taste of home. You may also want to create a dedicated shelf so they can keep their favourite foods separate from the household pantry. Sometimes something as simple as finding a sauce or condiment from home can allow your guest to easily turn some simple meat and vegetables into something they will love.
WHAT IF MY GUEST IS VEGETARIAN, HAS A SPECIAL DIET OR ONLY EATS HALAL?
You will be able to specify in your profile whether you are willing to support special diets.
WHAT IS HALAL AND HOW CAN I INCLUDE IT IN OUR REGULAR DIET?
Overall, cooking Halal is usually less trouble than it sounds, especially if you live in a city where Halal butchers are nearby. Halal is a process through which meat is butchered and treated, like Kosher. It is the same to prepare Halal meals as meals with conventional meat. You must avoid pork and alcohol and you just need to keep the Halal dishes distinct from the other. However, when a student identifies as a Halal eater, it is worth having a conversation about it. Some may be very strict in their Halal practices but others may be happy to simply avoid pork and alcohol.
WILL HOSTING A STUDENT AFFECT MY INCOME?
Generally up to 2 students is non-assessable income but it may have an affect on a pension. For more information please go to the ATO website
HOW DO I GET PAID?
While you are being paid by Talkabout Tours, you will receive weekly instalments into your bank account in advance.
HOW LONG DO STUDENTS STAY?
Students can ask for any length of time from 1 week to 3 years but usually it is just 4 or 5 weeks while they see how things go. They commonly ask to stay on after the requested time- this is by mutual consent. Either party can terminate the Homestay arrangement by giving 2 weeks notice at any time. We often get large groups here on Study Tours, particularly January to March and June to September who are here anywhere from 1 week to 8 weeks. Under 18 year old students attending High School will usually request much longer Hosting and cannot change Homestay without prior consent from Talkabout Tours.
WHAT IS MY DUTY OF CARE?
Please treat your students as you would expect a family overseas to treat your children. Students over 18 years old are adults and are able to come and go as they please but it is important you let them know that Perth is not necessarily safe and to take precautions when out at night. For under 18’s the Duty of Care is much greater and this will be explained to you should you wish to host younger students.
WHAT KIND OF CLEARANCES DO I NEED?
Every permanent member of the household who is over 18 years old will require a Police Clearance. If you wish to host under 18yrs students, every permanent member of the household over 18yrs will also require a Working with Children check. Both are available from any Post Office. Talkabout Tours can supply you with Working with Children applications at a heavily discounted rate.
WHAT KIND OF INSURANCE DO I NEED TO HAVE?
It is a Talkabout Homestay requirement for hosts to have appropriate liability insurance protection for themselves and students and appropriate cover for students’ belongings. Please check with your insurer. With many of the larger insurers, this is just a case of re-wording your policy, and is normally free of charge. Talkabout Tours can help with this.
WHAT SUPPORT DO I GET FROM TALKABOUT TOURS?
Talkabout Tours have been providing Homestay accommodation since 1999 and so have a great deal of experience and knowledge when it comes to hosting students and are readily available to answer any questions you may have. Our office hours are 9-5.00 weekdays, but we also have an after hours emergency number. If our phones are busy, and they often are, leave a message and we will get back to you as soon as we can. Alternatively, send us an email. If you are having problems with your student, we like to know as soon as possible to nip any potential difficulties in the bud. If you would like your student to leave your home early, please give them 2 weeks notice and let us know. If the problem is serious we will act swiftly to rectify.
DO I NEED TO HAVE INTERNET AND IS IT OK TO HAVE STUDENTS PAY FOR ITS USE?
Internet needs to be available to students. This is free of charge for email and study related access. If students wish to stream or video chat, please discuss with them. If you need to increase your plan to accommodate, it is OK to ask for a contribution of $5 – $10/wk.
HOW FAR FROM AWAY FROM THE SCHOOL CAN I LIVE?
We provide the Homestay accommodation for a great many schools throughout the Perth area. We try to place students not farther than 45 minutes by public transport to the school they are attending. It is always handy if you are on a bus or train route. Families within close proximity to schools are generally given first choice.
HOW DO MY STUDENTS GET TO SCHOOL?
Student either walk, (the lucky ones), or need to rely on public transport. It is hoped that a friend or member of the Host family will be able to go to take the student, by public transport, to the school on or before their first day. Please give your students written directions, your address and your phone number before they leave the home and take note of their mobile phone number, even if International
WHAT DOES THE APPLICATION PROCESS INVOLVE?
Once we receive your online application we will call to set up a time to meet with you in your home to discuss your application, student preferences, let you know our expectations and answer any questions you might have about the Homestay program. Generally this takes about 1 hour. Please let us know if you require Police Clearance and Working with Children applications. Please have a copy of your police clearances and your bank details handy when we visit. Once you are on the books we will contact you by phone or email when we feel we have a suitable student. We will tell you about the student, their arrival and departure details and you can decide if you’re able to host them.
WHAT SHOULD I DO BEFORE THE STUDENT ARRIVES?
Prepare the student’s room with fresh sheets and towels and make sure the room is properly aired. If it is hot, provide a fan. If it is cold make sure there is enough bedding and supply a heater if necessary. Purchase enough food for the first day or so.
In addition you can choose to familiarise yourself with the customs and culture of the country where the student is coming from so you can understand your student a little better from the beginning of their stay with you.
WHAT SHOULD I DO ON THE DAY THAT THE STUDENT ARRIVES?
Be available to greet your student and ideally organise to be home for the day or have a family member stay with the student. Sometimes it can’t be helped, but ideally don’t greet the student, tell them to ‘help themselves’ and go to work. Students are young people, often away from home for the first time. They are nervous and have traveled for many hours. Even if they sleep, they should not be left alone. Treat them as you would like your own family to be treated if they were travelling overseas. Ask if they would like to contact their parents to advise them that they have arrived safely. Offer them a drink and biscuit and show them their room, around the house and the bathroom facilities. Ask your student if they would like to take a shower and make them welcome generally. Later in the day take the opportunity to orientate the student to your home, explain mealtimes and introduce to other family members.
WHAT SHOULD I DO PRIOR TO THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL?
Your student will need to know how to get to and from School. Generally this means going with them on or before their first day. Please leave them with written instructions and your phone number should they get lost.
WHAT SHOULD I DO IN THE FIRST WEEK THAT THE STUDENT STAYS WITH ME?
Confirm with the student that they are happy and can use the bus or train to their School, local shopping centre and Perth City. Ask if they have made some friends and generally inquire as to their well-being. It is good practice to do this for the first two or three weeks.
MY STUDENT SAYS THEY HAVE NO DIRTY WASHING BUT THEY HAVE BEEN HERE FOR A WEEK.
You may have offered to do all your student’s washing but they prefer to do their own. Discuss this with your student, remembering that female students may not want their underwear on public display. Explain current water restrictions.
WHAT SHOULD MY STUDENT CALL ME?
This is your choice. It can be Mr or Mrs, your given name or simply Mum and Dad.
MY STUDENT IS USING TOO MUCH WATER. IS IT OK FOR ME TO ASK THEM NOT TO DO THIS?
Yes, explain the current water restrictions in your area. Explain that it is not your decision but that of the local council.
I TOLD MY STUDENT TO ‘HELP THEMSELVES’ TO FOOD BUT WHEN I ARRIVED HOME MY STUDENT HAD EATEN ALL THE TREATS IN THE LARDER.
It is a good idea to keep a container with ‘snacks’ written on it so the student knows exactly what they can take. There can be two containers, one in the larder and one in the fridge.
I TOLD MY STUDENT TO ‘HELP THEMSELVES’ BECAUSE I WAS GOING OUT BUT WHEN I ARRIVED HOME THEY HAD NOT EATEN.
Many students, especially when they are new to your household, will not do anything that they might get wrong. Consequently they will not take food or use equipment or help with washing up simply because they do not have the skill.
MY STUDENT SAID ON THE PROFILE THAT THEY DO NOT SMOKE, BUT I CAN SMELL IT.
Students do not always admit to smoking because they know that in Australia it is not always acceptable. Show your student a place outside that is away from the home where they may smoke and give them a container for cigarette butts. Explain that it is their responsibility to keep the area clean and tidy. Explain they may not smoke in the home.
MY STUDENT GOES DRINKING WITH THEIR FRIENDS AND COMES HOME INTOXICATED.
If your student is over 18 and is well behaved then it should not be a problem. However, if they are causing problems then speak with Talkabout Tours. If they are under 18 alcohol is not permitted. If you are a household where alcohol is not acceptable please let us know prior to student placement with you.
MY STUDENT DOES NOT WANT TO HELP WITH THE WASHING UP AFTER THE EVENING MEAL.
It is possible that your student may not know how to wash up. It may be better to give them a different job to do, clearing the table or laying the table prior to the meal for instance.
MY STUDENT HAS QUESTIONED THE ‘USE BY DATE’ ON PACKAGED AND FROZEN FOOD.
If you buy in bulk and freeze or you buy ‘specials’ always check the label is current and explain to students that this is common practice in Australia. It is not advisable to give your student unfrozen food passed the ‘used by’ date.
IF I TAKE MY STUDENT OUT DO I HAVE TO PAY FOR THEM?
If you want to take your student out, explain where you are going and how much it will cost. Your student then has the opportunity to decide whether or not to go with you.
IS IT OK FOR ME TO GO IN TO MY STUDENT’S ROOM WHEN THEY ARE NOT THERE.
Privacy is important. The student’s room should be private to them during their stay with you. If you plan to clean the room then let the student know when you will do this.
I THINK THERE IS SOME MONEY MISSING FROM MY HOME (AND/OR ITEMS) AND I THINK MY STUDENT MAY BE RESPONSIBLE.
Contact Talkabout Tours in the first instance. It is better that you do not confront the student yourself.
I LET MY STUDENT USE MY COMPUTER BUT NOW THEY ARE USING IT ALL EVENING AND I WANT TO USE IT MYSELF.
Communicate with your student about internet usage and set up a timetable. .
MY STUDENT IS UP NEARLY ALL NIGHT AND DISTURBING THE REST OF THE HOUSEHOLD.
Many students do this. Students from some countries sleep when they arrive home from school and speak to their friends on their mobiles, tablets or computers during the night. Explain to your Student that they must be quiet and not disturb other people. Please direct them to an area of the home where you won’t be disturbed. If that is not possible, you may have to give them a time (say 10pm) when they must not make further calls.
MY STUDENT LEAVES THE LIGHT ON ALL NIGHT WHICH WASTES ELECTRICITY.
Many students do this because they are scared. It is best to buy a low wattage bulb or give them a night light.
MY STUDENT DOES NOT GET IN TO BED BETWEEN THE SHEETS.
When you orientate your student to your home explain that this is how you sleep in Australia. They may come from a country that has a different type of bed so they may not know how to make or use a bed in the same way.
MY STUDENT SAYS HE/SHE IS COLD AT NIGHT.
Check that they have enough bed linen but also check that they are getting in to bed under the covers (see above)
MY STUDENT GETS HOME BEFORE ME EACH DAY AND I CANNOT GIVE THEM ACCESS BECAUSE OF OUR SECURITY SYSTEM.
This is a difficult situation but one that has to be negotiated. You cannot expect a student to wait outside your home indefinitely.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF THE STUDENT’S PARENTS WISH TO STAY?
This is your own decision. Be prepared for the fact that the parents may not speak any English. It is ok to say ‘no’ and ask that they stay in a motel nearby. You can then make arrangements to meet them or invite them to your home. If you agree to them staying and you plan to charge them make it clear to the student how much this will be and what it will cover. Make the family welcome and ask your student to translate for you.
MY STUDENT ASKED IF THEY MAY BRING A GIRL/BOY FRIEND HOME TO STAY THE NIGHT. I DON’T WANT MY STUDENT SLEEPING WITH A GIRL/BOY FRIEND IN MY HOME.
It is your home. Explain to your student that this is not acceptable. However if your student has a friend and they would like to invite this friend to stay overnight, and you are OK with that, then this should be arranged to suit all parties. Check with your student that their friend has let their Homestay host know. If in doubt please contact Talkabout Tours for support.
MY STUDENT DOES NOT COME HOME FOR SEVERAL DAYS. THEY TELL ME THEY HAVE A BOY/GIRL FRIEND BUT THEIR PARENTS WANT THEM TO STAY IN HOMESTAY.
If this concerns you, please notify Talkabout Tours
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WHEN A STUDENT INFORMS YOU THEY ARE LEAVING?
This normally requires 2 weeks notice unless they are leaving on the allocated departure date. Ask them for their forwarding address so you can send on any mail that arrives for them. Ask them how they will get to their new accommodation and assist them if they need help. This does not mean that you have to transport them but they may need assistance in calling a taxi or getting to the train or bus. There is no need to feel that they do not like you anymore or that you have done something wrong. Students are young people wanting to experience different situations. You can rest assured that when students move on it is because you have given them the confidence to do so.