School operations

International Student Program (ISP)

4. Homestay arrangements (Level 2 schools only)

This section covers: setting up and maintaining homestays, child safe travel arrangements.


Where a student under the age of 18 is not being cared for in Australia by a parent or suitable nominated relative, schools must ensure the arrangements made to protect the personal safety and social well-being of those students are appropriate.

Schools are also responsible for additional care and welfare arrangements to protect students under the age of 18 who wish to participate in extra travel and extra-curricular activities outside the normal scope of school activities.

Important requirements

Homestay arrangements

  • Students under 15 years of age at the time of commencing studies may only reside with a parent/legal guardian or Department of Home Affairs (DHA) approved relative.
  • DE International Education Division (IED) requires students over 18 years of age to live in approved accommodation for the duration of their study as a condition of their enrolment at the school. In special circumstances, DE (IED) may allow alternative living arrangements in consultation with the school. In these cases, schools are required to support students to find suitable accommodation and adjust to independent living, as required by the National Code of Practice for Providers of Education and Training to Overseas Students 2018 (Cth) (the National Code)External Link (Standard 6).
  • Schools should provide international students and homestay providers with information (particularly during orientation (DOCX)External Link ) on how to respond to a critical incident and ensure they remain clear on how to respond to incidents for the duration of the student’s enrolment and stay. They may provide international students and homestay providers with the critical incident flowchart.
  • All homestay fees must be transferred electronically. Homestay fees may be collected and disbursed by the school, or directly exchanged between the homestay provider and the student.
  • Schools will retain, monitor and reimburse a student’s homestay bond payment.
  • A student visa cannot be issued until appropriate welfare arrangements are in place for students under the age of 18.
  • If neither a parent nor a suitable relative is able to care for a student under the age of 18 in Australia, schools must approve suitable accommodation and welfare arrangements.
  • Registered teaching staff cannot provide homestay services to international students enrolled in their school.
  • • Schools who elect to take responsibility for a student under the age of 18 must specify when the school will commence responsibility for the student and when that responsibility ends. DE (IED) will use these dates to complete the Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW) when generating the student’s Confirmation of Enrolment (CoE).
  • The student’s CAAW arrangement will cease 7 days after the last day of the student’s course.
  • The student’s CAAW arrangements will cease once the student turns 18.
  • Schools may use commercial homestay recruitment agencies if conditions specified in the ISP Homestay Policy (DOCX)External Link are met.

Travel and extra-curricular arrangements

  • CAAW students must comply with the ISP Student Travel Policy.
  • The ISP Student Travel Policy does not apply to students residing with a parent, legal guardian or a DHA-approved relative.
  • Students under the age of 18 are not permitted to travel overseas other than directly into the care of a parent or legal guardian or a direct family member over 21 years of age approved by the parent.
  • DE’s welfare responsibility ends when a student departs from Australia.
  • Travel requires school approval (please refer to the ISP Student Travel Policy). Students must first seek parent approval and then request final approval from their school. Students must also advise their homestay providers of the details of the travel arrangements.
  • Students should use the relevant ISP travel request form for all travel requests.

School responsibilities and guidance

Overall homestay arrangements

  1. Principals retain overall responsibility for recruiting, monitoring and managing all homestay arrangements, including both Option 3: Parent Nominated Homestays and Option 4: School Arranged Homestay.
  2. Confirm to DE (IED) the school’s acceptance of the welfare and accommodation for the student.
  3. Take the steps necessary to provide suitable accommodation for the student.
  4. Discharge their duty of care and other obligations under the Victorian Child Safe StandardsExternal Link , the Commissioner for Children and Young People Reportable Conduct Scheme and DE’s Managing and Reporting School Incidents (including emergencies) policy.
  5. Facilitate changes to arrangements if the student’s accommodation and welfare arrangements need to change.
  6. Notify DE (IED) at if there are any changes or concerns regarding the student’s welfare arrangements. Noting critical incidents occurring in the homestay environment should be managed in accordance with DE’s policy and guidelines.
  7. Immediately raise any issues related to student welfare and visa conditions with DE (IED).

Recruiting a homestay provider

  1. Schools may recruit new homestay providers either:
    • from within the school or local community
    • via a direct application from a family residing within the area
    • through the use of a commercial homestay recruitment provider or agency.
  2. Schools may use a commercial homestay recruitment provider or agency. To ensure the appropriateness of the recruitment provider, the school must, at a minimum, satisfy the following requirements:
    • solicit references from a prospective commercial homestay recruitment provider testifying to their ethical standards and the quality of their work
    • consult with the school’s network cluster members and local Catholic and Independent schools regarding the prospective commercial homestay recruitment provider’s quality of service
    • inform the commercial homestay recruitment provider about the school’s child safe practices.

Screening homestay providers

Note: Schools cannot delegate any of the requirements below to any commercial homestay recruitment provider.
For all Option 3: Parent Nominated Homestays and Option 4: School Arranged Homestay, schools must:

  1. verify the suitability of homestay accommodation by conducting an initial homestay check
  2. verify the appropriateness of the homestay accommodation between 6 months and 6 weeks prior to the homestay commencement date
  3. ensure all homestay providers and those living or residing frequently at the homestay who are aged 18 years or older have a valid and current Working with Children Check (WWCC)External Link
  4. complete a referee check for the homestay provider to confirm suitability for child-related work
  5. complete an identification check for the homestay provider
  6. retain evidence that all necessary checks above have been completed
  7. schools must approve or reject the homestay provider as required
  8. subject to approval, add the homestay provider to the school’s ISP homestay register in VISIT.

Placing students in homestay

Before placing a student with a homestay provider and after the initial screening and approval of the homestay provider, schools must (for all Option 3: Parent Nominated Homestays and Option 4: School Arranged Homestay):

  1. provide homestay providers with the ISP Homestay Responsibility Agreement (DOCX)External Link which outlines homestay terms and conditions
  2. ensure that the homestay provider has understood the homestay terms and conditions
  3. conduct an orientation with the homestay provider (outlines expectations of the homestay, critical incident procedures, emergency contact numbers and how to identify and report child abuse)
  4. sign the Homestay Responsibility Agreement (DOCX)External Link with the homestay provider, student and student’s parent(s)/legal guardian(s). Homestay providers and the school representative should sign this agreement prior to or on the day of the student’s arrival. Students should be briefed on the terms of this agreement within the first week of the student’s arrival. A copy of the completed agreement should be shared with the student’s parent/legal guardian.

Moving a student to another homestay host

Situations may arise where a school finds it necessary to move a student to another homestay host. This could involve changing from one homestay to another homestay but staying at the same school, transferring to another school and therefore requiring a different homestay or having to move into an emergency accommodation arrangement.

Schools must:

  • if needed, schools must assist the student in finding a suitable homestay arrangement
  • assist the student with moving to another homestay
  • if applicable, work with the new school to ensure there is no gap in the accommodation and welfare arrangements when a student is transferring to another school.

Monitoring homestay hosts

Note: Responsibilities assigned to principals cannot be delegated whereas the responsibilities assigned to schools may be delegated to relevant school staff such as the International Student Coordinator (ISC).

Once a student is placed with a homestay provider

Schools must:

  • maintain an accurate and up-to-date ISP homestay register in VISIT
  • conduct a homestay assessment and site visit check every 6 months (or more frequently if required, for example, following a critical incident). The site visit checklist in VISIT must be used when completing a homestay assessment and site visit. Two weeks written notice must be given to the homestay provider prior to conducting a homestay check and site visit check
  • monitor all homestay WWCCs by maintaining an accurate and up to date ISP homestay register in VISIT. Check the status of all WWCC once each term by using the status checkerExternal Link on the WWCC Victoria Website
  • record the status check on the WWCC register
  • move the student into emergency homestay as soon as they are notified or become aware of any homestay provider or persons aged 18 and over living or frequently residing in the homestay who do not hold a valid WWCC, until the WWCC is obtained. Where there are compassionate and compelling circumstances, the school may request that DE (IED) assess the circumstances and determine whether or not the student should be moved. This may require evidence that the required WWCC has been applied for and the school has appropriate risk mitigation strategies in place
  • notify DE (IED) at immediately if there are any changes to a student’s homestay arrangements
  • follow up on any issues raised by the student or homestay provider and take appropriate action as per the ISP complaints and appeals process guide (DOCX)External Link .

Principals must:

  • take appropriate action if a homestay provider has breached the Homestay responsibility agreement (DOCX)External Link , including the homestay terms and conditions
  • take appropriate action if a student has breached the homestay responsibility agreement
  • notify DE (IED) if the school can no longer provide a suitable homestay for a student and all emergency accommodation options have been exhausted
  • confirm that all homestay providers and people living or frequently residing in the homestay over the age of 18 have a valid WWCC
  • consult with DE (IED) to determine whether a student should be moved if WWCC requirements are not met.

Homestay training and support

Schools must:

  1. host annual (as a minimum) information and awareness sessions for homestay providers which address:
    • critical incident policies and procedures
    • the school’s Child Safety and Wellbeing Policy and Child Safe Code of Conduct
    • identifying and reporting actual or suspected child abuse
    • the Homestay Terms and Conditions, including any updates
    • any legislative or policy changes that will affect the homestay provider
  2. reiterate expectations, roles and responsibilities of homestay providers
  3. provide support and advice as required.

Principals must:

  1. confirm that homestay provider training has been completed
  2. demonstrate support of homestay provider training sessions through attendance together with relevant staff
  3. ensure all homestay providers are in attendance, and for those unable to attend ensure appropriate training is provided in an alternative form.

Exiting homestay arrangements

It is expected that students remain in the allocated homestay unless compassionate or compelling circumstances apply, that is exceptional circumstances which impact a student’s welfare, wellbeing or safety. Changes to homestay arrangements are approved by the school.

Student requesting to exit a homestay arrangement

Schools must:

  1. consider a student’s request to exit a homestay arrangement and determine whether compassionate or compelling circumstances apply
  2. approve or deny a student’s request to exit a homestay arrangement and facilitate the student’s transfer
  3. return homestay bond to student or facilitate a claim against the homestay bond.
Homestay provider requesting to terminate homestay agreement

Schools must:

  1. ensure the student is provided with at least 2 weeks’ notice
  2. approve the termination of the homestay agreement
  3. return the homestay bond to the student or facilitate a claim against the homestay bond.

Ending homestay arrangements

Transfer to another CRICOS-registered provider

Schools must:

  1. assist the student to complete a Withdrawal form (PDF)External Link
  2. ensure all evidence is attached
  3. send a copy of the form and evidence to DE (IED) at for approval
  4. continue to provide accommodation until DE (IED) confirms that the new provider has assumed responsibility for the student’s care and welfare arrangements.

Principals must:

  1. sign the withdrawal form and confirm that all evidence is attached.
CAAW to non-CAAW

Schools must:

  1. assist the student to complete a Welfare provision change form (PDF)External Link
  2. ensure all evidence is attached
  3. send a copy of the completed form and evidence to DE (IED) at for approval
  4. ensure that the student remains in their approved accommodation until confirmation is received from DE (IED) that the new welfare arrangements have been approved.
CAAW ceases (over 18 years) – independent living

Schools must:

  • counsel students and parents on the DE (IED) recommendation that they remain in homestay accommodation until they complete their studies
  • follow the procedural advice outlined in the ISP homestay procedure
  • seek feedback from the student on the independent living arrangement at least once per term to ensure that the accommodation remains suitable.

Principals must: sign the completed Independent living assessment checklist (DOCX)External Link if an independent living assessment has been completed.

Cancelling or suspending student enrolment on a CAAW

Schools must:

  • continue to provide welfare and accommodation responsibilities for the student until advised otherwise by DE (IED).

Travel and extra-curricular arrangements

When a school receives a request to travel from a CAAW student

Schools must:

Principals (or delegate) must:

  • decide whether to approve the travel.

Compliance evidence

Schools must ensure the following information is available for audit:

  1. signed ISP homestay responsibility agreement (DOCX)External Link for all students residing in a homestay arrangement (both parent-nominated and school-arranged homestays)
  2. completed site visit information in VISIT for all students residing in a homestay arrangement (both parent-nominated and school-arranged homestays) for the initial site visit and all 6 monthly checks
  3. up to date travel information and forms in VISIT
  4. completed Application for change of accommodation and welfare provision form (PDF)External Link and evidence for students changing homestay arrangements
  5. approved travel request documents with all necessary signatures prior to student undertaking travel
  6. completed ISP independent living assessment checklist (DOCX)External Link for all students living independently
Section 4 of the ISP School Toolkit on setting up and maintaining homestays and child safe travel arrangements

Reviewed 20 February 2024

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