Why do families apply to host international students?

Families apply to host for many reasons.  Sometimes they want to expose their children to other cultures, sometimes their children have left home and they are missing the company of young people.  Sometimes their homes are just feeling a little empty. What all our Hosts have in common is a desire to help, share their knowledge and experience, and learn about different people and cultures.

How does Talkabout ensure a family is suitable?

When we receive an application from a family, we first check if they live in a suitable area. That means being close to public transport, shops and reasonably near the school or university. Then, we pay them a visit. We take a look around the house and student bedrooms, and we have a chat with the family to make sure they’re a good fit. We’re interested in why they want to host, their background, their interests, and their previous hosting experience.

Who does Talkabout Homestay 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

How far away from the school can I live?

The majority of our students attend UWA Claremont, UWA Nedlands and Curtin University in Bentley, however we do place students all over the Perth metro area. We prefer to keep students within 45 minutes by public transport of the school they are attending, but will consider homes a bit farther afield. Families within close proximity to schools are generally given first choice.

How do my students get to school?

Students either walk, (the lucky ones), or need to rely on public transport.

It is hoped that a friend or member of the Host family is able to take the student, by public transport, to the school on or before their first day to orientate them. Please give your students clear instructions how to get to and from school.  This is the Transperth Journey Planner website. Make sure your student has your address phone number before they leave the home and please take note of their mobile phone number, even if International.

What support do I get from Talkabout Homestay?

Talkabout Tours have been providing Homestay accommodation in Perth 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 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?

Remuneration depends on the age of the students and the meal options chosen.  Click here for current rates 

Talkabout collects all funds and pays into your nominated bank account weekly for the duration of your student’s stay.

Will payments affect my taxable income or pension?

Up to two Homestay students is non-assessable, non-declarable income, so is tax-free.

Homestay income is 20% assessable if you are a pensioner, so, if you earn $310 per week for hosting a student, only $62 if considered income.  Pensioners are permitted to earn $102 per week without affecting the pension, so, could host 2 students for most of the year and the pension would not be affected.

Here is the government website link for more information https://guides.dss.gov.au/social-security-guide/4/3/8/40

It is always a good idea to check with your accountant as individual circumstances can differ,

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 to 8 weeks.

It is completely up to you if you would prefer long, short or medium term students.

Under 18 year old students attending High School will usually request much longer Hosting and cannot change Homestay without prior consent from Talkabout Tours.

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 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. Talkabout Tours can help with both of these at highly discounted rates.

What kind of insurance do I need to have?

It is a  requirement that Hosts have appropriate public liability insurance to protect themselves and students and ideally cover for students’ belongings. Please check with your insurer. With many of the larger insurers, this is just a case of calling them and, in some case,s there is a slight re-wording your policy, and is normally free of charge. Talkabout Tours can help with this.  There is newly available Host family specific policy covering damage by students with a public liability component for about $200 per year if required.

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 should I do if my student is ill or has injured themselves?

For a minor illness such as flu and cough, students should go to your local family doctor. Ideally you, a relative, friend or neighbor are able and available to take the student there. Students are responsible for all costs, although some may be claimed back through their health insurance.

For any serious illness, please take your student to the local hospital to get emergency care and immediately notify Talkabout who will notify the school/university, agent and/or parents. Health insurance may cover most of the costs.

Students may need to obtain a medical certificate to present to your university for any time off during the normal study term when visiting a doctor and/or hospital.

Some answers to some common issues

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