With Australia’s rental crisis reaching extreme levels, a growing number of households are embracing the idea of hosted accommodation for international students. This housing option, known as homestay, offers students more than just a roof over their heads. It gives them the opportunity to dive deep into local culture, customs and day-to-day life by living alongside Australian families.
Yet, the rapid rise of the homestay sector has revealed a significant issue: the lack of consistent rules or guidelines in place. This has led to issues like overcrowding and, unfortunately, some students being taken advantage of. To address these concerns, the National English Language Teaching Accreditation Scheme (NEAS) has rolled out new Quality Standards for homestay service providers. These standards are designed to hold homestay providers accountable and ensure students have both safe and rewarding experiences.
Why these new standards are important
David Bycroft, founder of the Australian Homestay Network (AHN), shared insights on the importance of these newly announced standards. “The Australian Homestay Network has been advocating for industry-wide homestay standards since we began in 2007,” Bycroft shared. He highlighted the pressing nature of the issue, stating, “overcrowding, exploitation and being ripped off by unscrupulous individuals were apparent back then and with today’s lack of housing, students are just as vulnerable.”
Bycroft also highlighted that Australia has about 13 million spare rooms. By improving hosted accommodation standards, more people will be drawn to the homestay experience and these spare rooms could help solve the housing challenge while also promoting cross-cultural connections for international students.
What will the new quality standards look like?
Better management and communication
In the new standards, students will receive a more detailed and digestible guide covering everything about their stay: costs, house rules, and any other essential information. Additionally, cultural awareness training will be provided for both students and hosts, reducing misunderstandings and promoting smooth interactions.
Ensuring a safe and nurturing Aussie home
The updated standards ensure your room isn’t just a place to sleep. It’s a room that feels like a personal haven, suited for both relaxation and study. Shared spaces in the home are designed for communal harmony, regular meals are provided, and there’s a strict adherence to safety standards.
Proactive student welfare and engagement
Before you even step foot in Australia, you’ll be provided with a clear induction and a detailed placement report about your homestay and fellow residents, ensuring complete transparency and preparation. After arrival, your homestay provider and host will guide you through a thorough orientation of both your new home and the local area. If your agreement includes it, you can also expect assistance with cultural exchange, language development, and potentially even homework support!
Supporting host families throughout the process
Host families won’t be left to figure it out on their own. With requirements for safety checks and regular home inspections, hosts will be thoroughly prepared to provide a safe and supportive environment for their student guests. They will undergo initial and continuous training, ensuring they understand their roles, responsibilities and regulatory requirements. They’ll also receive detailed information about you to create a rewarding and respectful living situation.
Reasons to consider homestay
- Cultural immersion: Living with a local family offers international students a firsthand experience of Australian customs, traditions, and daily life, enriching their overseas study journey.
- Safety and emotional support: In a new country, the safety and comfort of a homestay provide reassurance. Plus, having a local family means emotional backing, which is important during initial days of adjustment.
- Cost-effectiveness: Homestays can be more affordable than other accommodation types, saving on utilities, internet and meals.
- Practical language practice: Immersed in an English-speaking environment, you can quickly enhance your language skills through daily interactions, aiding your academic pursuits.
Find out more about the homestay experience on the Australian Homestay Network website.