Charlie Le Masson of France and Frederikke Eisener of Denmark are enjoying the experience of a lifetime.
The two young women, aged 20 and 19, are currently staying with families in Merimbula and Pambula, learning about Aussie life and improving their English, all in exchange for some childcare duties and light housework.
They are both in Australia for six months and are working in the area as au pairs.
“I look after two girls, aged 2 and 7, I was nervous before coming but I Skyped the family to get to know them and the girls are adorable, the family is wonderful,” Charlie said.
Charlie is living and working in Pambula with Mick Barnell and Wendy Kenyon. She only has one month left in the area but said she couldn’t have asked for a better family.
Nineteen-year-old Frederikke is living in Merimbula with single mum Lily McBain and is looking after eight-year-old Hamish and four-year-old Everley.
Both Frederikke and Charlie agree that they have hit the jackpot when it comes to host families and the location of their time working as au pairs.
They have been warmly welcomed both into their host families and also into the Sapphire Coast community.
But not all Australians treat their au pairs the same way, there are growing reports of some hosts using them as cheap labour rather than treating them as an extra member of the family.
Inflexible and expensive childcare options make au pairs increasingly attractive to Australians and according to the Cultural Au Pair Association of Australia demand has almost doubled for au pairs in the past five years.
A Fairfax Media investigation has discovered that, in the absence of any regulations for au pair arrangements in Australia, some au pairs are being underpaid, overworked and left vulnerable to instant dismissal, and even homelessness and assault.
To better protect both au pairs and the families that host them, the Cultural Au Pair Association of Australia is pushing for the federal government to introduce a specific au pair visa to regulate working conditions and the rights of both au pairs and host families.
But until such a time comes to pass, young women will have to rely on reputable au pair agencies and hope they are as lucky as Charlie and Frederikke.
“Before coming I was only focused on being with a good family, I am lucky the family lives somewhere so beautiful and where everyone is so welcoming and kind. The landscape and nature here is breathtaking,” Frederikke said.
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