National Report on Au Pairing in Australia

Cultural Exchange or Cheap Housekeeper? Findings of a National Survey of Au Pairs in Australia

On 28 November 2018, Laurie Berg and Gabrielle Meagher released the report Cultural Exchange or Cheap Housekeeper? Findings of a National Survey of Au Pairs in Australia. This report reveals that the majority of au pairs in Australia are paid as babysitters but work like housekeepers. This report draw on responses from 1,479 participants who had au paired in households in every Australian state and territory.

Key findings include:

  • Most participants came to Australia looking for a traditional ‘cultural exchange’, but almost 60 percent found themselves working for around 36 hours a week, doing not only childcare but daily cooking, cleaning and other household tasks.

  • Average working hours were 34 hours per week; nearly a third (30%) worked 40 hours per week or more.

  • Taking into account a generous value of room and board, a majority of participants (58%) were paid less than the national minimum wage.

  • A third of participants worked in families who lived in the most advantaged 10% of suburbs in Australia.

  • Cultural agencies promote au pairing as a cultural experience. However, participants who used an agency to arrange their placement fared no better than others in relation to working hours, rates of pay or inclusion in family activities.

  • Most participants did not understand how Australian visa rules relate to au pairing and the consequences of breaching visa conditions.

The report recommends that government provide clear, detailed guidance to au pairs and host families on the employment and other rights of the thousands of foreign au pairs in Australian homes each year, as well as a funded service for assistance and advice.