Building positive homestay experiences

Ms Jennifer Walsh1, Ms Jennifer Chow1, Mr Ian Teo1

1Trinity College, The University Of Melbourne, Carlton, VIC

The export of Australian education is currently valued at approximately $20 billion (AUD) and is our third-largest export after coal and iron ore. A significant gap in the provision and regulation of this export, however, exists with regards to homestay regulations and standards across the higher education, vocational education and training, schools, English language intensive courses and non-award courses sectors. Specifically, of the 382,106 students who started nationally across these sectors in January 2017, little is known about the number of individuals involved in homestay or the nature of their experiences.

To address this gap in the literature, this presentation will seek to outline several issues. It will begin by providing a description of homestay data within Victoria to showcase student trends and knowledge gaps. This will be followed by an overview of incoming legislation relating to homestay and 1) how the regulation of service providers remain unarticulated; 2) the problematic nature of third-parties engaging homestay providers to organise and assess student welfare and accommodation arrangements; 3) the attitudes and intentions of homestay providers; and 4) the legal responsibilities, especially in regard to the Victorian Child Safety Standards to support students and the need to train hosts on cross-cultural communication, food, and child safety.

Importantly, this presentation will provide new data on the nature of Victorian homestay students’ experiences as they transition into life in Australia and how these findings are entwined with the issues outlined above. Recommendations regarding a set of national standards to ensure the safety and security of homestay students will be proposed at the end of this presentation.


Jen Walsh has an extensive professional background in adult education, spanning numerous facets including international students, oversight of learning programs, project management and the promotion of public education.  Jen is currently the Housing and Accommodation Manager at Trinity College, University of Melbourne, working closely with external partners to ensure consistently high standards of student safety, security and wellbeing within a range of approved accommodation options.  Jen has worked in a leadership capacity within the Victorian arm of the Australian Education Union (AEU), an organisation which campaigns in the interests of public education and supports the personal, professional and industrial needs of its members. She has also managed programs at Victoria University, an institution recognised for its empowered student growth as well as for community engagement in research and knowledge exchange. Jen is currently Vice President ISANA International Education Association Inc. Victoria/Tasmania Branch.

Ian has been working within the Trinity College Foundation Studies since 2004. For much of this time he taught as a Psychology lecturer within this program while pursuing postgraduate qualifications in Higher Education. His PhD thesis, “Transitioning from a Chinese education to an Australia education – A study of FSP students”, emphasised the critical role that the social dimension has in shaping international students’ university experiences. Since 2016, Ian has transitioned into the role of Research Coordinator: Foundation Studies Program to further investigate issues relating to international education and provide research support for Trinity College staff.


The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education.

For more information, please visit ANZSSA website by


ISANA International Education Association is the representative body for professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education.

For more information, please visit the ISANA website at

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