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.

Differences between Au Pair and Nanny

In October, the CAPAA team represented the au pair industry in a groundbreaking meeting with the Fair Work Ombudsman. Smartaupairs and CAPAA continue to campaign for a better understanding of the Au Pair program as an International Cultural Exchange program and this dialogue with Fair Work gave us the opportunity to highlight the differences between a nanny and an au pair.

Unless we have an recognised Au Pair program in Australia, we risk au pairs to be seen as ‘workers’ with potentially complex obligations for host families which we believe are of no benefit to the au pair.

Here is what we think are the key differences:

Au Pair
1. Usually unqualified [in Childcare/early learning]
2. Unlikely to chose a career in childcare; main motivation to chose the au pair program is for the opportunity to experience cultural exchange in a family orientated gap year program
3. Does not know Australian customs and both agency and host parents should inform the au pair of ‘Australia specific’ do’s and don’t (example: swimming pool risks, snakes & spiders, slip-slap-slop, bush fire risk and evacuation plan)
4. English is second language, able to communicate but still improving
5. First Aid certificate from own country
6. Limited knowledge of [Australian] nutrition, should know some simple recipes
7. Need some training before they can care for children, most of the planning should be done by parents and communicated in the host family handbook.
8. Communication diary to be agreed and guided by host family
9. Police Check from own country and WWCC* on arrival
10. Not employed; au pair program is based on family invitation. Pocket money guidelines are provided by agencies and confirmed by au pair invitation.
11. No childcare rebate structure
12. Placement for 6-12 months care
13. Unstructured play with the children (unless parents specify certain activities in the handbook)
14. Communication with parents. Parents remain main point of contact for other care providers such as school and kindy
15. Driving license from their own country (International Driver’s license); needs help to get familiar with driving in Australia
16. Use of family car, safety, insurance and maintenance is family responsibility. Child-seats fitted by host family
17. Interview by Skype – multiple interviews are encouraged
18. Background check and references organised by recruiting agency in source country of the au pair
19. Sole care for children under 2 is not too much responsibility for most au pairs
20. Newborn care should only be with close parental guidance and supervision
21. Always live-in
22. Invited by host family, childcare provided in exchange for Full board and pocket money and chance to be part of their Australian host family. Working hours/on duty hours should allow for social life and sightseeing and should not be excessive (**50 hours is seen as excessive!)

Nanny

1. Usually [childcare/early learning] Qualified or working towards a qualification
2. Likely to be a professional in childcare; wanting to have a career in childcare
3. Knows Australian customs e.g Child safety/methods
4. English is fluent
5. Accredited First Aid and CPR training
6. Trained and experienced Knowledge about nutrition and able to cook
7. Independent [capable of un-aided planning] and uses own initiative to resolve challenges
8. Will report daily with communication diary and summary at end of day
9. Working with children check
10. ABN or employed by family
11. Eligible for registered provider rebate
12. Long term continuity for child
13. Age and developmentally appropriate activities
14. Communicates with other care providers such as School or Kindergarten
15. Confident driver
16. Own transport
17. Can meet with family for interview prior to commencement and undertake a trial
18. Full background checking available
19. Can be left in sole charge care of children
20. Can care for children from newborn upwards
21. Often live-out
22. Employed and paid as per the legal requirements in Australia [Childcare award] – no limit to working hours

Passionate Customer Service consultant with smiling voice.

Smartaupairs is seeking a passionate customer service consultant to talk to families who are interested in our au pair program.

 

We are fortunate to have a very close-knit team and it often feels like we are all part of the family. On busy days we help each other and we are always looking for ways to improve our service and seek feedback. Many of our team members have been au pair or nanny and/or spent time living, working and studying overseas, so we each feel very closely connected to the au pair program. The strength of the team in the Sydney office is a combination of wonderful personalities and a true commitment to each other, our partners, our families and our au pairs with a joyful daily atmosphere.

 

Our team is looking for a part time customer service consultant/receptionist to handle the majority of enquiry telephone calls and have the confidence and skills to turn the calls into customers. The role will based in Frenchs Forest and will initially be for 3 mornings per week with flexibility to take on more hours if another team member is absent.

 

Key responsibilities include:

  • Providing prospective families with fast, efficient, friendly and knowledgeable service
  • Answer customer queries in a courteous manner by telephone and email and passing messages to other team members for follow up if needed
  • Making notes of your communication on the online family profile (customer database)
  • Working independently yet cooperatively in a team environment

 

To be considered for this role, you need to be able to meet the following selection criteria:

  • Passion for Customer service
  • Outgoing and enthusiastic personality
  • Ability to work with ‘online’ tools such as e-mail, Google calendar, handling basic database tasks
  • Work in a fast paced team environment
  • Perform repetitive tasks as well as learning new ones
  • Portray a positive attitude at all times
  • Demonstrate clear written and verbal communications skills (fluent English!)
  • Previous experience in a customer service, sales consultant or receptionist role

Nominate your Au Pair for the “Au Pair of the year” award

We have received so much exceptional feedback from host families this year, we would love these families to nominate their amazing au pair for our Au Pair of the Year Award!

Your nomination should consist of an essay written by your family host family, describing the characteristics that make your au pair exceptional. The essay should be between 500-850 words (approximately 1 page). The essay should only describe the experience, without referring to the name of our agency or our service.

IAPA (International Au Pair Association), the host of the contest is looking for compelling reasons why you believe your au pair is exceptional.
• To ensure fairness and objectivity by the IAPA selection panel, the names of the au pair and the sending/receiving organisation/s will not appear on contest entries.
• All contest entries will become property of the International Au Pair Association, including rights to edit and publish the material.
The winning au pair will be notified by IAPA.

birthe AP pf the year

 

Birthe from Smartaupairs Australia won the “Au Pair of the year” award in 2012

 

 

 

 

 

In addition to the au pair of the year award, host families can also nominate their au pair for our internal “Au Pair of the month” award, where the prize is a 150$ travel voucher they can use in every Backpackers Worldtravel store in Australia.

 

Working Rights for Au Pairs in Australia Extended to 12 Months

Au pairs coming to Australia are now allowed to stay with host families for up to 12 months following a ruling made recently by the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Au pairs travel on a Working Holiday visa, which, until now, enabled them to stay in the same workplace – in other words, with the same host family – for a maximum of only six months.

Working Holiday visas are valid for 12 months. The new ruling removes the six month restriction enabling au pairs to continue to stay with the same host family throughout the term of the visa.

Au pairs who are already in Australia can also choose to apply for an extension through the Department to enable them to lengthen their stay with the current family to up to 12 months.

Owner and founder of Smartaupairs, Nicole Kofkin and the President of the Cultural Au Pair Association of Australia (CAPAA), Wendi Aylward have welcomed the ruling.

“International au pairs provide an affordable childcare solution. The growing demand for au pairs shows that their benefits are increasingly being recognised by parents. This ruling that will enable au pairs to stay with a family for up to 12 months is being welcomed by host families,” said Ms Kofkin.

“The ruling makes having an au pair an even more appealing option for childcare. Until now an au pair could stay with one family for a maximum of six months. Many of our families find that amount of time just too short. Families appreciate the idea of having an au pair who can stay longer.”

Ms Aylward said au pairing is growing in Australia as families recognise that it is flexible and affordable.

“Longer placements will address seasonable shortage of au pairs, and cause less disruption for families as the bond formed between children and their au pair can continue for a longer period,” she said.

The ruling follows lobbying by the au pair industry and a 2014 recommendation by the Productivity Commission Inquiry into Childcare for au pairs to be allowed to work for a family for up to the full 12 month term of their visa.

Ms Kofkin and Ms Aylward met last month with Minister of Social Services Scott Morrison to discuss the extension and the role of au pairs in childcare in Australia.

The new ruling is effective immediately.

As a well-respected au pair agency in Australia, Smartaupairs can guide you through the process of finding the right au pair who can provide flexible and affordable childcare for your family for up to a year.

5 Challenges Faced By Working Mums and How to Overcome Them

Being a new mum is a challenge on its own, but women returning to work after having a baby, face extra challenges as well.

Experiencing guilt

It seems that experiencing guilt is part of being a mum. But working mums often feel guilty when they are not at home with their children, especially when babies and toddlers achieve milestones. Many mothers want and need to work, whether for financial reasons or for self-fulfillment and stimulation, or, as in most cases, a combination of reasons.

If you are battling with guilt remember it is most important to do what is right for you and your family, and what makes you happy. Try to look at the positives of your situation – the benefits for you and your family of you working – and make the most of the time you do spend with your children.

Juggling domestic duties

Housework is still often regarded as ‘women’s work’. This often results in women inadvertently taking more responsibility in the home than men, which can be an added burden for working mums.

Dealing with the resulting stress may require you to lower your standards by deciding what housework is non-negotiable, what aspects you can be more relaxed about, and whether you can delegate or outsource. You may need to negotiate about tasks that can be performed by a partner or older children, or perhaps source a regular cleaning service so you don’t have extra responsibilities outside of working hours.

Finding support

A support system is essential for any mother – every mum experiences days when we feel like we just cannot carry on – but this can be especially true for one who is working.

Family members may be able to provide support, but whether or not you have family nearby, there are a range of options. It may be a regular babysitter, who you can call on to have a night off, friends who are available for a chat over a cup of coffee, or an au pair, who lives in your home and gives you more flexibility.

Having dependable childcare

When it comes to childcare, the cost, flexibility available and the kind of care you can expect for your children are factors to bear in mind. For many working mums there is a great need for childcare to be flexible and affordable. It’s not always possible to knock off work at a specific time, avoid late functions or escape weekend shifts. Transporting children to and from childcare can also be a source of stress for mums who feel like they don’t have time for everything that needs to be done.

Alternative childcare options can be the solution for many working families. Au pairs, for example, are often an affordable childcare option and they provide flexibility by looking after younger children in the home, or doing the school run and looking after children before parents get home from work.

Finding time for yourself

As mothers we are renowned for not looking after ourselves, or putting ourselves at the bottom of the list. However, it is so important for working mothers to take a breather. Whether it be time for a cup of coffee or a movie, a weekly yoga or meditation class, or a night away from it all, it’s important that working mums look after themselves. This includes finding time for yourself and your partner. Spending quality time together will also help you to recharge your batteries.

 

To find out how an au pair could help you overcome some of the challenges of being a working mum, get in touch with Smart Au Pairs today. As an Australian au pair agency, they can help guide you to achieve the best outcome for your family.