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!)


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

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