Page 334 - Week 01 - Thursday, 15 February 2018

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(6) What guidelines, procedures and standards are in place to ensure that homestay providers/coordinators are consistent in their practice of conducting assessments and inspections, as well as ensuring regular training and education sessions.

(7) What mechanisms for review or redress are available should a host family, student or school staff member wish to make a complaint about the homestay program.

Ms Berry: The answer to the member’s question is as follows:

(1) The International Education Homestay Program is managed by the Directorate’s International Education Unit (IEU). The Homestay Coordinator undertakes an initial inspection and meeting with prospective homestay hosts and ensures that all members of the homestay aged 18 or over have current Working with Vulnerable People (WWVP) checks in place before approving an international student placement. Within the first ten weeks of each international student’s arrival, an orientation visit by IEU staff occurs to support the student and homestay family to achieve a successful transition into study and life in Canberra. In addition, the IEU Homestay Coordinator completes a physical inspection of the suitability of every homestay residence at least every 12 months. As of 1 January 2018, the IEU will be undertaking more frequent accommodation suitability checks every six months, to align with the Commonwealth Department of Education and Training’s new National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students, 2018.

(2) If there is a breach of standards found around the suitability of the residence, the homestay is provided with the opportunity to rectify the issue. Contact is made by the Homestay Coordinator with the homestay hosts to discuss and rectify any concerns raised in order to achieve a satisfactory resolution. If the issue is not remedied to a satisfactory standard, arrangements are made to transfer the student into another homestay deemed appropriate.

(3) Homestay host families and students are contacted at least once a term by IEU staff and more regularly if required. Liaison between school staff and IEU staff occurs regularly and as required and more formal meetings are conducted once per school term. The IEU is available to homestay families and international students during business hours for assistance. For all urgent issues outside of business hours, an emergency help line is available at 1800 682 175.

(4) Homestay host families undertake the following training:

initial training and information session before hosting a student,

training and an in home visit within ten weeks of each new student arriving, and

an annual mandatory training session which outlines homestay host rights, responsibilities and best practice.

All international students are provided with an initial orientation session upon arrival, a follow up orientation session within the first month after their arrival and subsequent compulsory information sessions each semester. In addition, all schools hosting international students provide an orientation session in the first week of the academic semester.

(5) There are regular requests from all parties to address specific topics, such as advice about providing assistance to integrate students into both their new families and the broader community, part time work, dietary and food expectations, expectations around household chores, curfews and meeting the expectations of offshore parents.

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