Push to regulate au pairs
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.
Kate Nuttall with the children she cares for, Freddy and Vivienne Kaps.