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Does Australia need a bespoke au pair visa?

The use of au pairs, traditionally more common in Europe than Australia, has dramatically increased in popularity in Australia over the past few years. This is in part due to the increase in costs of childcare as well as a perceived lack of available childcare places and convenience for working parents.

Companies involved in the recruitment and placement of au pairs from overseas have been calling for a visa specifically for au pairs for a while now, one that would permit an au pair to remain with a family longer than the 6 months permitted on a Working Holiday visa.

Further reading: Spotlight on au pairs as childcare rebates dwindle

The federal government has responded by proposing an au pair visa that would last for two years instead of one (a Working Holiday visa permits working for six months with six months for travel). However not everyone in the early learning and childcare industry is enamoured with the idea.

ELR spoke to the Australian Childcare Alliance’s (ACA) Paul Mondo to discuss some of the concerns the organisation has.

Mondo said that while the ACA supports parental choice regarding their childcare needs and individual circumstances ACA’s “concern is the suggestion that the au pair visa would be considered a replacement for children accessing early learning and childcare and to offer more affordable and flexible arrangements according to what has been announced at this point in time.

“There is a place for au pairs to be involved in supporting family needs however that should not be at the expense of providing access to … an early learning environment.

“Suggesting this is there to create more affordable childcare undermines the government’s position that the Jobs for Families Child Care Package will be addressing affordability …  so why are we creating other policies to fix the same problem that has already apparently been resolved.”

Mondo also expressed concern about the unregulated nature of childcare provided particularly when the industry has invested so much money and resources into the National Quality Framework for Early Childhood Education and Care.

Listen to the podcast for the full interview.

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