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all about hosting

Hosting an overseas high school student gives Australian families the opportunity to share their life and culture with young people from around the world for a school year, semester or term. It is about discovering another culture, encompassing different traditions and practices, and supporting a new family member.

WEP host families are unpaid volunteers. They are welcoming, curious and excited to have the opportunity for new experiences. They are people who would like to discover another culture, another way of life and traditions, and enjoy seeing Australia through the eyes of their exchange student.

You will become a second set of parents to your student and they will adapt themselves to your routines and family rules. While hosting a student you will have the opportunity to uncover the little differences that exist between our culture and that of another country.

Over time, host parents find that they have a special place in the heart of the exchange student. Some students even come to call their host parents ‘mum’ and ‘dad’ and are heart-broken when it comes time for them to return home.


Who are the exchange students? 

WEP exchange students are young people between the ages of 15 and 18 who want to experience a new culture, build their characters and increase their maturity levels by learning to adapt and integrate into a way of life unique and different from their own.

They are students who think seriously about their future and who want to learn our language through daily usage.

The students who arrive in our country have deliberately made the choice to come and live here. Despite a multitude of possible choices, Australia is where they have chosen to undertake their exchange. It is our culture they wish to learn more about and it is up to us to help them do so.


  • Having a photo taken and sent overseas of a meal you have prepared, because it looks so different!
  • Knowing someone who is amazed that we can travel for hours and still be in the same state of one country!
  • Being part of a young person’s life as they rapidly learn about the subtle differences between people and cultures!
  • Putting your own extraordinary efforts and generosity into the personal development of a new family member!
  • Together, families and students discover that, although vast and multifaceted, the world is filled with people sharing similar hopes, dreams and concerns for the future.

Hosting a student encourages a family to: 

  • See Australia through the eyes of a non-Australian.
  • Visit new places and re-visit old favourites.
  • Teach our local customs and language.
  • Gain a new family member and friend for life.
  • Have lots of fun!
  • Host families also tell us that hosting a student and learning about another language and culture in their own home is the next best thing to living overseas.


How to become a host family?

WEP’s unpaid volunteer host families come from all walks of life. You may have children or not, you may have children older or younger than the exchange student, you may be a young couple or an older couple, or you may be single. You may live in a house, in an apartment, in a town or in the countryside. 

In selecting a family, WEP Australia gives priority to the following characteristics:

  • A real and profound desire to be part of the hosting experience.
  • An openness and flexibility of approach and attitude.
  • An ability to be both firm in discipline, yet warm and caring.
  • A desire to learn more about other peoples and cultures.

As a host family we expect the following of you:

  • Ensure the student respects the program rules of WEP Australia.
  • Maintain your same way of life.
  • Treat the student the same way you would your own child, as possessing the same rights and responsibilities and adhering to the same standards of behaviour and expectations.
  • Share the good times with your student as well as the less agreeable times.
  • To become your student’s second family, their friend and their confidant.
  • Maintain patience with your student, particularly in the beginning as you and the student adjust to a new lifestyle.

Your student will expect much of the same from you as they learn to adapt to their new surroundings and become a fully-fledged member of your family.

What are the next steps?

  • Fill out the enquiry form below or call 1300 884 733 to request a free information pack.
  • Return the application form along with detailed descriptions of your family, quality photos depicting your daily life and student preference.
  • A WEP local area coordinator visits your family home to meet the family for a relaxed interview. This coordinator is also a volunteer and will be available to provide ongoing support throughout your student’s stay. Your three referees are also contacted at this stage. We also request Working With Children Checks.
  • Acceptance into the hosting program is confirmed and WEP arranges local area school enrolment for your student.
  • Your student arrives to begin their experience and build a lasting relationship with you and your family.

Host family form

Leave us your contact details and we will get in touch with you as soon as possible to explain everything about this fabulous experience (commitment-free)!

student hosting faq

Are host families paid?

WEP host families are all unpaid volunteers. WEP is an Australian not-for-profit organisation and, as such, government regulations prevent us from providing remuneration to host families. All WEP students have their own spending money and are fully insured. Students are expected to cover costs outside their host family's usual outlay.

Are the students insured?
All students are covered by the Australian Government’s mandatory health insurance – Overseas Student Health Cover – the equivalent of Medicare. Many students also have additional insurance. Host families are not expected to include exchange students on their own insurance policies.

Do we get to choose our student?
Once we know a little about your family interests and hosting preferences, we will send you suitable student profiles. You then get to choose the student who you think will best fit into your family. 

How do we become a WEP host family?
Call 1300 884 733 to request a free information pack, application form and profiles of prospective students.

How is the program financed?
Government regulations prevent the remuneration of host families, so families generously volunteer to host. The student is responsible for any costs incurred through telephone usage, school uniforms, school materials, local transportation, personal items and any other general expenses that do not fall under the family’s usual outlay. Students pay a program fee to the organisation in their home country, which finances their application, interview & acceptance process, screening of suitable host family, program materials, flights, health insurance, orientation programs and 24 hour support for both themselves and the host family.

What support will we receive during the student's stay?
Host families have an extensive, experienced support network to call upon should they experience any issues during a student’s program. Your main source of support will be a local WEP coordinator. The coordinator is also a volunteer and is expected to get to know both your family and the student in order to ensure a pleasant experience for both parties. Most of the problems experienced by students and host families are due to miscommunication and culture shock, so an independent mediator is often all that is required. If an issue persists you will be able to contact us directly at our office. In the case of an emergency, both you and the student will be able to call our 24-hour emergency phone that will be answered by a staff member.

When do students arrive?
Generally speaking, students arrive in late January and mid July. If staying for a semester, students will leave early July or early December; if staying for a year, they will leave in December or early June.

Where are the students from?
The majority of students are from European countries, with some coming from North and South America. Host families are able to indicate their preference on the Host Family Contact Form and are encouraged to choose a student who they believe will best fit into their way of life.


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