Antonia is a winner! Nominate your au pair next month

Every month our host families from all over Australia have a chance to nominate their au pair to win our Au Pair of the Month competition. Antonia is a winning au pair and here is the lovely nomination from her host family.

Antonia from Germany is, above all, a beautiful, generous and divine human being. Her extreme gentleness, faultless care, and boundless generosity flow over and she brings an incredible energy to our household and our lives. We outright love Antonia, and we all feel so very loved back by her – especially my two children. They arrive home from preschool and school and call “Antonia!!!” as the first thing when they walk in the door. Antonia is there with a smile and a cuddle for them and they just adore her, as do I.

Not only is she incredible with the children but she is an amazing help to me around the house – cooking, tidying up the kitchen, helping with the kids rooms, helping with the laundry. She is fabulous with the routines of the house and so reliable in everything she does. For the first time in 6 years I go to the gym a couple of mornings a week, can work more effectively, and go on a date night with my husband once a week – all because of the beautiful Antonia.

In 6 months have never seen her grumpy or in a bad mood. She is the most selfless, beautiful, appreciative and happy person. We as a family feel honoured to have her living with us, and I can only say that I dread the day we have to say goodbye – and that will be the day we start thinking of a holiday to Germany to go visit her.

She is the most outstanding Au Pair. Thank you Antonia. We love you. Riedl family, NSW

 

Visitors from Europe learn more about Au Pair in Australia

We had a great week sharing insights into our Au Pair in Australia program with two of our partner agencies from Europe. We look forward to lots more lovely au pairs travelling to Australia in the next few months and we know they will be well informed, thanks to all of the hard work and learning we did with Samantha and Kerstin.

Spotlight on au pairs as childcare rebates dwindle

As childcare rebates run dry, families are increasingly turning to au pairs for childcare.

Nicole Kofkin, chief executive of au pair agency Smart Au Pairs, has seen an increased demand for the service over the last few years.

See full story by Loren Smith from NewsCorp Australia on www.earlylearningreview.com.au

International Au Pair of the Year

Here are our 3 nominations we selected from our very lucky families who nominated their phenomenal au pair to be in the running for the International Au Pair Association, Au Pair of the Year.

For this, we want to say CONGRATULATIONS to the au pairs below. Here is a taste of what their host families said:

Shabnam

shabnam

Shabnam quickly developed genuine relationships with our two children. Her keen sense of humour, together with an amazing knowledge of child behavior and a wisdom beyond her years combine to form the perfect mix of qualities for an au pair. In fact, I’ve picked up quite a few tricks from Shabnam along the way that will be useful in the future. For example, Shabnam has a great way of getting my 5 year old son to turn his behavior around by using humour. A well placed joke from Shabnam can change my son from being an overtired uncooperative monkey into a well behaved happy boy within minutes!

She also has an amazing sense for knowing when things are getting hectic with the kids and swooping in to help. For example, the other day I was home with the kids and Shabnam was off duty. I had to take an unplanned work call, meanwhile my 1 year old was carrying on and making the phone call very difficult for me. Shabnam appeared out of nowhere, took my daughter in her arms and off to play. She even changed my daughter’s dirty nappy – something no off-duty au pair should have to do!!!

We have found not only an exceptional au pair who has consistently gone above and beyond, but a lifelong honorary member of our family ….and a trusted friend.

Johanna

johanna

Within weeks of her arrival I transitioned from home schooling my 4 young children to running a medical imaging business full time. At only 18 years of age, Johanna was able to calmly and efficiently run the household and care for the children. She maintained their exceptionally busy extracurricular schedule driving tirelessly to multiple locations every day, helped them with music practice, homework, organisation and down time.

Fostered discipline and character development, took kids on morning runs, prepared breakfast, lunches and tidied! Johanna took care of all house hold chores, shopping and prepared amazing meals and baked treats.

Johanna has been most responsible, trustworthy and thoughtful person Johanna went above and beyond her duties every day with a wonderful surprise of handmade truffles, personalised ginger breads made by the children and precious photo mugs and calendar for presents!

An unforgettable big sister and role model, a heart full thank you to Johanna’s family for sharing her with us!

Helena

helena

My children love playing games with Helena, jumping on the trampoline, going to parks, the zoo, animal farm, and science museum with Helena, as well as splashing in the pool and going to the beach.

Helena is a very calm, thoughtful and kind. To stop our eldest daughter being scared at night she bought a dream catcher as a Christmas gift. Ryan, our resident super hero, also loved his gift of Avenger underpants. She tries to empower the children and makes sure their views are taken in to account.

Helena has made a huge impact to our lives. Not only has Helena been fantastic at having fun with the children, her nature and experience means she is firm and good at keeping order. Meal times have stopped being so crazy and the things I had given up on whilst overwhelmed with the pregnancy were re-introduced. Helena is both a wrestling buddy for Ryan and an extra person to chase and hug. Keira loves having her nails done and playing shopkins with Helena. Lara loves extra cuddles.

Despite the chaos of the last few months, Helena has kept life stress free and organised. She has gone above and beyond a normal au pair’s help. We are truly lucky to have had Helena during this period in our lives.

 

 

Au Pair Cultural Exchange

The Au Pair in Australia Program is currently under review with the ATO, Fair Work and Immigration.

It is our intention to get official recognition for the au pair program as Cultural Exchange under an informal arrangement and therefore be excluded from employment responsibilities and newly introduced backpacker tax.

 

Au Pair of the Month Aubrey

Aubrey brought an easygoing warmth and kindness into our house. Her background as an elite gymnast helped our daughter take it up a few notches on the trampoline and at dance! Her disciplined approach was also a blessing for juggling homework and the children’s many activities.

 

aubrey nsw

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aubrey made a beautiful video to music of her great times with the family and hand drew her unique designs on a pair of very special runners for our daughter.  The children absolutely love Aubrey and we will miss her very much when she sets off to see the world. 
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Nicole Kofkin on Radio NZ on behalf of CAPAA

We encourage our host families to include au pairs in meals, celebrations, activities and family holidays. The unfortunate event of French au pair Manon being refused entry to New Zealand to join her host family on their family holiday caused shock and disbelieve.

Au Pair on holiday – Radio NZ

 

Juliette is quoted in the Herald Newspaper

Juliette was asked to contribute her knowledge to this article about childcare in the Sydney Morning Herald, written by Barbara Drury.

Another low-cost alternative is to welcome an overseas student, or au pair, into your home. Juliette MacGregor, of Smartaupairs, says most au pairs are looking for a cultural experience with the chance to earn some pocket money for travel.

Au pairs typically work up to 30 hours a week, minding children and doing light chores before and after school with the occasional night of babysitting. In return they receive bed and board plus pocket money of around $170 to $200 a week, depending on hours and qualifications.

MacGregor says her agency places 500 to 600 au pairs a year in major cities around Australia but has to turn away many families. That’s partly because of to a seasonal shortage of au pairs at the start of the school year because most European students begin their gap year in the northern summer.

“We also get a lot of inquiries from regional families because there’s not much formal childcare in their area, but we have to turn them away”, MacGregor says.

Up until recently au pairs – who are generally overseas students on a 12-month working holiday visa – were restricted to working with each employer for a maximum of six months. But last year the Department of Immigration and Border Protection removed this restriction, allowing au pairs to stay with a family for up to 12 months.

The Cultural Au Pair Association of Australia is also in discussions with the government to create a specific au pair visa open to more nationalities to help meet demand for their services.

Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/money/her-money/patchwork-of-informal-childcare-to-make-busy-family-lives-work-20160211-gmrmn7.html#ixzz40OYmo8py

Smartaupairs team sponsor Christel in the Philippines

Through Plan International, we were introduced to Christel, her family and her community.

As an au pair agency, we talk to many families every day and enjoy making a difference by helping them find a nice au pair to be part of the family and help out to give parents a better work-life balance. We wanted to help a different family too, or, more specifically, a young girl who has very different challenges from the families and au pairs we deal with every day. We want to make a difference in her life and give her more opportunities for her future.

Christel is 5 years old and lives with her family in a house made of cane with a thatched roof and an earth floor. She lives with her mum and dad and 2 sister. The family uses wood for cooking and their main source of water is a well, 30 minutes away. Christel attends primary school and it takes approx. 45 minutes to reach school. Not all children in the Philippines attend school; although most go to primary school, by the time children reach high school, a shocking 40% is no longer in school.

We hope that our sponsorship with enable her to keep happy, healthy and allow her to finish high school.

European Agency visits and planning for 2016

Last November, Cynthia and Juliette travelled to Europe to meet our overseas partners.  They had meetings with our 5 largest partner agencies, located in Germany and the Netherlands.  As you can imagine, this was a great time to exchange ideas and share ‘best practice’ to continue to develop the Au Pair in Australia program further. These lists proved to be very successful and help us with the planning for a busy 2016. As a team, we believe its very important to invest in strengthening our partner agency relationships. 

Feedback from the visit so far is that our partners now understand exactly what Australian families are looking for. Agency prescreening and preparation of candidates is thorough and we feel very confident in every candidate they send our way.

The trip is a great opportunity for our entire team to collaborate to developing the program further still, and to ensure that all of our families have a great choice of candidates, all year round.