Push to reg­u­late au pairs

Pilbara News - - News - An­gela Pow­nall and Car­leen Frost

The boom­ing au pair in­dus­try has come un­der fire for its lack of reg­u­la­tion and ba­sic guide­lines.

There are few rules for em­ploy­ing an au pair — an in­creas­ingly pop­u­lar child­care op­tion in Aus­tralia — with most hired on a hand­shake ar­range­ment in­volv­ing board, food and an al­lowance in re­turn for child care and light house­keep­ing du­ties.

Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy Syd­ney re­searchers are in­ter­view­ing the 10,000 au pairs work­ing in Aus­tralia with the aim of rec­om­mend­ing a “best prac­tice” model for the sec­tor.

The univer­sity’s Lau­rie Berg said the lack of reg­u­la­tion left work­ers — of­ten young peo­ple from over­seas — vul­ner­a­ble, high­light­ing the need for reg­u­la­tory re­form.

“We clearly need reg­u­la­tion that bet­ter safe­guards the in­ter­ests of au pairs and fam­i­lies,” she said. “Au pairs have very lit­tle re­course if se­ri­ously in­jured in the host fam­ily’s home or re­fused promised pay­ments by fam­i­lies. Equally, if an au pair leaves with­out no­tice, a fam­ily can be left in the lurch with­out ad­e­quate child care.”

Perth au pair Kate Nut­tall said she had been lucky with the fam­i­lies she had worked for dur­ing her five years in the in­dus­try, but she knew many nan­nies who had not been so for­tu­nate.

Ms Nut­tall said au pairs and fam­i­lies should be screened and be sub­ject to back­ground and po­lice checks.

Picture: Si­mon Santi

Kate Nut­tall with the chil­dren she cares for, Freddy and Vivi­enne Kaps.

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