Priceless Exchange - Demi Pair and Au-Pair Agency - Demi-Pair Explained

Please read the following important and supportive information we have put together for host families.

1.    Welcome to Priceless Exchange

Thanks for visiting Priceless Exchange – an Australian Demi-Pair agency.

My name is Andrea Pelikan and I am the Founder of Priceless Exchange.

We find homes for young visitors to Australia with local families who don’t pay a cent for help at home – that’s what we call a ‘priceless exchange’.

A Demi-Pair spends 15 hours a week from Monday to Friday helping a family with housework and childcare in exchange for a bedroom and meals. Here's a sample of 20 ways a Demi-Pair could help you at home.

An Au-Pair is full-time and means living ‘on par’ – or on an equal basis - with a host family.

A Demi Pair is like a part time Au Pair or an affordable Au Pair. You could also think of it like a live in nanny or a part time nanny.

Hosting a Demi Pair is similar to having an international exchange student, host student or homestay student - but it’s a priceless exchange for help at home in return for a bedroom and meals.

Many of our host families find the extra help at home with child minding, babysitting and housework means their house is cleaner and they can choose how they want to spend an extra 15 hours a week.

Most of our Demi Pair and Au Pair placements are with host families living in these cities in Australia - Sydney, Gold Coast, Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Melbourne. 

Priceless Exchange is a win-win for both families and students.

We give busy parents more time and make it more affordable for young people on a student or working holiday visa to live in Australia.

Have a look around our website while you’re here!

2.    About Us

Coming from Switzerland, we can see that Australian families have much less support at home from their extended families and their communities.

A few years ago, while Patrik worked full-time, I juggled my own part-time work and housework with home-schooling our three children - daughter Zorana and twin sons, Vinnie and Alec.

Finding a Demi-Pair to help me at home with housework and children totally changed our lives and gave us more quality time together as a family.

After experiencing how much a Demi-Pair could help busy families like ours we started Priceless Exchange.

What sets Priceless Exchange apart from other Demi-Pair agencies in Australia is the personalised service and support we give our host families and Demi-Pairs.

As experts in cultural exchange, Patrik and I give ongoing support to Demi-Pairs from the minute they arrive in Australia. We also help families get the most from their relationship with their Demi-Pair for the duration of their stay.  

3.    Why choose Priceless Exchange?

There are some big advantages to choosing Priceless Exchange for your Demi-Pair placement:

•    We offer a free service to our host families.

•    Andrea has spent a lot of time in South Korea, studying their culture. This comes as a great advantage for both the host families and Korean Demi-Pairs with the support Andrea is able to offer in a challenging situation. It also helps Andrea prepare the host family to understand their Demi-Pair’s culture.

•    Andrea and Patrik were born and raised in Switzerland. We also understand the European culture very well.

•    We have established very successful partnerships with our agents overseas. We understand that it is the agent who prepares a Demi-Pair before they come here. We rely on the agents to decline applications if they feel that students might not suit the program. It is very important that the potential Demi-Pair has the right personality and attitude to join our program.

•    This is challenging to establish from here in Australia which is why we rely on our agents. This is also the reason we only place Demi-Pairs through selected educational agencies. Once a Demi-Pair is here and with a host family, they become our responsibility. If you choose a placement with Priceless Exchange, you can be assured your Demi-Pair joins your family with adequate training, information and the right attitude.

•    We also offer 24 hour support to both host families and Demi-Pairs. There has never been a situation where we weren’t there if a host family or Demi-Pair needed support.

•    Our Demi-Pairs are fully insured.

•    We stay in constant contact with both our Demi-Pairs and our host families and help solve any issues that arise.

4.    How can I qualify as a host family?

To qualify as a host family you will need:

•    To have a private, spare bedroom
•    Provide breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week
•    Be living within 1 hour by public transport, door to door, to the closest CBD
•    Provide a working schedule based around the Demi-Pair’s school hours which are generally 8.30am-2.30pm
•    Provide a fair balance with housework and childcare
•    Invite your Demi-Pair to be part of some of your family’s social time
•    Be aware and respectful of your Demi-Pair’s culture
•    Do your best to help your Demi-Pair settle in with your family

If you tick those boxes, your next step is to submit your Family Profile Form to us.

5.    What do I need to provide?

As a host family, you need to provide a private room, breakfast, lunch and dinner. The room needs to have a bed, including all linen and sufficient storage for the Demi-Pair’s belongings. Demi-Pairs study English and need to do homework for school - therefore the room should include a small desk as well. Limited Wifi should also be included.

All Demi-Pairs are expected to adapt to their host family’s meal standards. As a family, you are expected to provide for one more adult eater to your family’s standards. A host family is not expected to provide special meals for their Demi-Pair. A Demi-Pair can prepare their own breakfast and lunch, as long as the family tells them what they can use. Some families take sandwiches for lunch and other families prepare left over dinners for lunch. The evening meal is normally eaten together with the family.

Demi-Pairs are expected to buy their own snacks and personal care products.

6.    How does the placement process work?

Once a family is interested in hosting one of our Demi-Pairs, we ask them to complete our family profile form. It is a simple Word document and should be completed on the computer and emailed back to us including some photos of your family and your home. Once we receive the completed form you will go onto our waiting list.

We receive a Demi-Pair application and CV of every student and we match the Demi-Pair with the best-suited family based on personalities, experiences and interests.

We email the host family their potential Demi-Pair’s information and only send the family’s profile to the student once the family has confirmed they would like to host the student.

Once the Demi-Pair confirms the placement with the host family we email out the confirmation email, including flight details. Families need to give final confirmation and agree to the placement terms. Demi-Pairs sign the Demi-Pair agreement.

Both parties agree to an initial 12 week placement.

7.    What can I expect of a Demi-Pair?

A Demi-Pair comes to Australia to study English. This is the main reason a student chooses to become a Demi-Pair. Living with an English speaking family means lots of exposure to the language.

Most Demi-Pairs have not lived alone before joining a family and may not have lots of experience looking after a house or children. Every Demi-Pair should have the right attitude and initiative to learn the jobs quickly and be fun to be around.
The Demi-Pairs are briefed about the program in their home country. Being a Demi-Pair means helping a host family 15 hours per week with housework and childcare. There should be a maximum of 10 hours of housework and a minimum of 5 hours of child-related work.

Each Demi-Pair has different strength and weaknesses so it works best if you can be a bit flexible with your schedule to accommodate these.

Examples of housework: Helping with breakfast, packing lunchboxes, tidying the kitchen after meals, washing/folding laundry and putting it away, vacuuming and mopping floors, cleaning bathrooms and toilets, dusting, tidying, preparing food, cooking and driving (if agreed). If your Demi-Pair requires driving, it is important to arrange car insurance and insurance excess in case of an accident.

Examples of childcare: Dropping kids at school/childcare and picking them up (if agreed), helping with homework, playing inside and outdoors, helping with meals and bath time, helping kids tidy up and babysitting. This is very general because every family has their own needs.

There are two parts to a Demi-Pair placement:

1.    The working time - this is the ‘business part’ of the placement, where the Demi-Pair ‘pays’ for her/his stay. Families can expect the Demi-Pair to work swiftly, independently and show initiative.

2.    The social part - where the family includes the Demi-Pair as part of their everyday life, exchanging the culture. This is also very important and is expected by most Demi-Pairs. It also helps them feel less like a ‘worker’ only. We ask our host families to spend some of their family time including their Demi-Pair.

A host family can ask their Demi-Pair to babysit outside the normal working hours by mutual agreement. A host family can ‘swap’ hours around or pay the Demi-Pair a suggested $10 for every hour worked in addition to the agreed 15 hours.

A Demi-Pair is also expected to show commendable behaviour in front of the children.

8.    Where do the Demi-Pairs come from?

We currently work with South Korean agencies and Langports Education who have campuses in Brisbane, Sydney and on the Gold Coast.

We have established a very effective system for our Demi-Pair recruitment and preparation. Demi-Pairs are briefed about mutual expectations between Demi-Pairs and host families and cultural differences.

After being accepted into the Demi-Pair program by the Korean agency, Priceless Exchange does a Skype interview with the potential student. We look at the candidate’s English level and personality. Once they pass our interview, they will be accepted into the program.

Langports Education is a very high quality English school offering the Demi-Pair program in European countries. We have been successfully placing Demi-Pairs from Switzerland, France, Italy and Spain to date. The selection system is very similar to the Korean process, including the interview.

9.    What is the difference between a Demi-Pair from Europe and Asia?

There are many cultural differences between Asian and Western countries. Understanding some of the fundamental differences might help a family to choose what culture will fit in best with their family.

People in South Korea work on a respect level towards each other and the younger person shows respect to the older person, even if there is only a one-year age difference. This means they have to obey the older person’s instructions without any discussions. They are not allowed to say ‘no’.

Living with a Western family will be challenging for them at first so it is important for the host family to encourage communication with their Demi-Pair. Korean Demi-Pairs tend to spend evenings in their room studying. This does not mean they don’t like you, but it is the way they grow up, giving other people privacy. It is not usual for them to join you on the couch and watch TV and it is important for host families to respect this.

Demi-Pairs from Europe tend to be more hands on and more confident dealing with children. A European Demi-Pair usually spends more time with their host families, including the evening. European Demi-Pairs are normally better in situations where the family needs someone to look after children independently.

We usually recommend an Asian Demi-Pair if a family likes quiet evenings and not having an extra person around when the kids are in bed.

At the end of the day, it is important for the family to know which culture would fit in with them best.

10.    What English level do Demi-Pairs have?

A Demi-Pair needs a pre-intermediate level of English to be considered for the program.

With a pre-intermediate level, we expect a Demi-Pair to understand all basic conversations and especially to understand the children.

We suggest each family has a written work schedule for their Demi-Pair as well as ‘house rules’ and ‘expectations’ they can read and translate during a quiet moment in their room. A Demi-Pair can also send this information to the agent in their country if they need help translating it.

11.    What can I expect of my Demi-Pair in the first few days after arrival – how should I welcome my Demi-Pair?

When a Demi-Pair arrives with their host family they are normally very tired, nervous and a little overwhelmed.

Many Demi-Pairs have just travelled around 20 hours from their homes and said goodbye to their own families. It is very daunting for them to arrive in a new family and a different country where people speak a different language and have a different culture. Then they will start at a new school and most likely know nobody.

We recommend that the host family encourages their newly-arrived Demi-Pair to have a shower and freshen up first. Then maybe offer them a snack and a drink. Let the Demi-Pair unpack and settle into their room. We encourage the Demi-Pairs to spend the first couple of days getting to know their new host family.

It is important that the host family presents their Demi-Pair with the working schedule in the first day or two. If a family feels like letting their Demi-Pair settle in for the first week or so it usually backfires and the Demi-Pair gets used to ‘not doing much’.

It is very important to set expectations from the start because it is difficult for a host family to approach a Demi-Pair asking for more help after the first couple of weeks.

So, welcome your Demi-Pair and let them settle in for a day. Then talk about the working schedule while you help them get used to their tasks in the first week or two.

12.    Creating a fair Working Schedule

It is important to think about your family’s daily routine when creating a working schedule for your Demi-Pair.

We recommend timing a task when you do it and multiplying by about 1.25 to 1.5 times. For example, if doing the dishes takes the host parent 20 minutes, allow about 25 to 30 minutes for the Demi-Pair to do it.

Demi-Pairs should never use their mobile phones, go to their rooms or spend time doing nothing during the working time. The 15 hours of help from your Demi-Pair is considered the ‘business part’ of the placement in exchange for the Demi-Pair’s room and meals. We expect the Demi-Pair to work the 15 hours in the family as they would work in any other job.

Please contact us straight away if you feel your Demi-Pair is not taking their part of the agreement seriously.

As a host family, you can expect your Demi-Pair to learn the tasks quickly. Please spend 1-2 weeks training your Demi-Pair by showing them the different tasks. We expect a Demi-Pair to work independently by week 3 at the latest.

We have a document helping you create a working schedule, including a sample schedule that we email to families in our placement confirmation email.

13.    What happens in conflict situations?

All Demi-Pairs are very well-prepared before joining a host family. They sign a placement agreement which is sent to the host family prior to placement.

However, because the Demi-Pair program involves people - no placement can ever be 100% guaranteed.

If you experience any challenges with your Demi-Pair, please contact us immediately. We will always try to work out a problem and expect both host family and Demi-Pair to try their best to solve the problem.

If a problem can’t be solved, we will re-home the Demi-Pair to a new family or look for alternate accommodation as soon as possible. This is a process that can take a few days and we expect both parties to understand this.

If you experience a personality clash with your Demi-Pair, we will re-home your Demi-Pair straight away.

We would also ask your Demi-Pair to leave your family straight away if she/he would not be able to do the work outlined in your family profile form or if she/he smokes, drinks alcohol, is unreliable or shows any type of unacceptable behaviour towards you or your family.

All Demi-Pairs all well supported by their educational agents as well as Priceless Exchange and sometimes we need to work through situations with their agents who can communicate with the Demi-Pair in their own language.

14.    Airport Pick Up

The increasing number of Demi-Pairs coming to Australia on our program has made it physically impossible for us to pick them up from the airport and deliver them to their families.

So we can continue to offer you a free and priceless service, we ask each family to pick their Demi-Pair up from the airport when they arrive which is usually on weekends.

When the Demi-Pair buys a package from their agent, it includes language school, Demi-Pair placement, insurance and airport pickup so we can’t ask the Demi-Pair to catch a train, bus or taxi to their host family.

If your family is not able to meet your Demi-Pair at the airport, we can help you arrange an airport pick up for a small fee of $75 to be paid when your placement is confirmed.

The placement confirmation email we send to families explains more about this, such as where to meet your Demi-Pair at the airport.

15.    We are going out, who covers the cost of the Demi-Pair?

This is always a very tricky question. As a host family, you are expected to provide all meals for your Demi-Pair. If your family is going out for dinner and you ask your Demi-Pair to join you, the Demi-Pair will expect you to cover her/his part. The same goes for weekend outings.

If you can’t cover the Demi-Pair’s cost, please make sure your Demi-Pair understands this before leaving the house. For example, if you are going out for dinner, you could say: “We are going out for dinner and you are welcome to join us, but you will need to pay for your meal, or you are welcome to stay here and make yourself a meal”.

It is very important that both the Demi-Pair and host family understand who is paying before leaving the house.

16.    Demi-Girl vs Demi-Guy

Many families ask about the differences between male and female Demi-Pairs. These are their general gender characteristics:

Girls are more maternal and enjoy playing with children. They can be expected to do housework, cooking and help with laundry. Many families find girls tend to ‘watch’ the children, instead of getting actively involved with them. Girls usually need more emotional support from their host families.

Guys are expected to do the same jobs as girls with housework, cooking, meal preparation and laundry. Guys seem to get more actively involved with the children and are often found jumping on the trampoline with them, playing games in the park or riding a bike with them.

We find that families with boys and very active kids normally enjoy male Demi-Pairs and families with more quiet children prefer female Demi-Pairs.

Families requiring more housework, cooking and meal preparation normally benefit from having a male Demi-Pair.

For very time poor families, we recommend males because females generally need more support and caring.

We understand each family has different preferences and of course we accept that too.

17.    How does a Demi-Pair get to school?

It is very important for a Demi-Pair to be independent. The host family needs to live close to public transport that can take the Demi-Pair to school within one hour, door to door.

Most Demi-Pairs don’t drive. In some instances a Demi-Pair travels longer to school and in those cases the extra travel time would be deducted from their agreed working time.

18.    What does a Demi-Pair do on the weekends?

The Demi-Pair program is very busy for students. They catch public transport, study most of the day at school and help their families before and after school. Most students also need to fit in time to study. This schedule leaves very little time to socialise with their friends during the week and that’s why most Demi-Pairs want to spend time with their friends on the weekends.

Some Demi-Pairs prefer to spend more time with their host families than their friends on weekends.  If this creates issues for families who want their own family time then please tell us so we can communicate this to them and help to manage their expectations for you.

19.    What happens after the initial 12 week placement?

All placements are agreed for 12 weeks initially. Demi-Pairs and families are welcome to extend the placement if they wish to and it is up to the host family and student to make these extended arrangements.

Leaving a host family after 12 weeks is always sad for Demi-Pairs and host families don’t like to see their Demi-Pair leave either.

A Demi-Pair normally visits language school for 12 weeks, sometimes less. Once a student graduates from their course, she/he will most likely look for a part-time job. Sometimes this results in Demi-Pairs finding accommodation close to their work with short notice to the family. If your family relies on your Demi-Pair’s help, please let us know so we can make sure we have the next one lined up for you.

We will contact you about one month before your Demi-Pair graduates, asking you to have a chat with your Demi-Pair and discuss plans after the placement. If your Demi-Pair plans to leave, we start the placement process again with your next suitable Demi-Pair.

20.    What kind of Visa does a Demi-Pair hold?

Demi-Pairs either have a Working Holiday Visa or a Student Visa.

A Working Holiday Visa enables a Demi-Pair to work unlimited hours. This visa is valid for 12 months and is available to students from South Korea, Japan, France and Italy.

With a Student Visa, a Demi-Pair needs to study full-time and can only work up to 20 hours a week in a part-time job, which includes the Demi-Pair hours. The Australian Immigration Department considers the Demi-Pair hours as work. The Student Visa is valid for the time a Demi-Pair visits language school or studies. Students from Switzerland, Spain and South America usually travel on a Student Visa.

21.    Alcohol, smoking and parties

A Demi-Pair is expected not to drink alcohol while living with a host family. Of course the family can offer the Demi-Pair the occasional glass of wine or beer, but it is not acceptable to drink during working hours. It is also not acceptable for a Demi-Pair to arrive home in the middle of the night intoxicated.

Most of our Demi-Pairs are non-smokers. If a Demi-Pair smokes, the host family is made aware of this before placement confirmation. Families don’t have to accept smoking if they didn’t know about the habit prior to commencing the placement.

If you experience any challenges to do with alcohol, smoking or partying with your Demi-Pair, please contact us immediately.

22.    How are Demi-Pairs insured?

All Demi-Pairs have their own private medical insurance. If they need to visit a doctor or the hospital they might have to pay cash for the consultation but they can claim a refund from their insurance company. If they don’t know what to do, please ask them to speak to their educational agent in their own country.

All Demi-Pairs have liability and damage insurance through Priceless Exchange with an excess of $250. If any of your property gets damaged, please contact us straight away. Keep the broken item because the insurance company may want to inspect it before agreeing to its replacement.

23.    Water, Electricity and Internet

It is very important for the host family to set standards and limits for use of water, electricity and internet. Most Demi-Pairs are from countries where water, electricity and internet usage is not as costly as it is in Australia.

We encourage families to set limits for:

  • Shower time (it is customary in Korea to have a long shower in the morning as well as before going to bed),
  • Internet download (for movies and music), and
  • Electricity usage (including usage of air conditioning and electric blankets, for instance).

Please ensure your Demi-Pair does not use an electric blanket from their country. In case of a fire, an insurance company won’t cover a claim of a non-Australian-standard item.

24.    Koreans and Bathrooms

Koreans generally use their bathroom as a wet room. It is fully tiled and set lower than the rest of the house and there are no shower screens in most apartments.  Most Korean people stand in front of the vanity and splash water onto their face so the room is wet all over.
When Korean Demi-Pairs attend their information sessions, they are made aware that bathrooms in Australia always need to be left dry and that our bathroom fittings could be damaged by water, especially if they are made of timber.
Koreans usually also shower morning and night so it has been made clear to them that they will only be allowed to shower once a day in Australia.
If your Demi-Pair forgets these rules, please remind them.

25.    What happens on public holidays?

A Demi-Pair has public holidays off, just like in any other working arrangement.

26.     What to do if any of these issues arise….

The cultural exchange families have with Demi-Pairs is one of the key benefits of our program, however sometimes cultural differences can cause concern for some families. Here are some solutions in case any of these issues arise during your Demi-Pair’s placement:

•    Chewing with the mouth open is not part of the Korean culture so simply ask your Demi-Pair to chew with their mouth closed, especially in front of the kids.

•    Constantly using the mobile phone is more of a generational problem but a Demi-Pair is not allowed to use their mobile phone during working hours or at the dinner table.

•    Saying they understand but not following instructions is mainly a problem with Asian cultures because they are very conscious of not wanting to make mistakes. They can’t really say no in their country. Writing your instructions down and asking your Demi-Pair to repeat what you just asked them can help.

•    In many languages ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ are not used as much as in English so please remind your Demi-Pair about the importance of using these words.

•    Demi-Pairs are expected to keep their room and bathroom tidy at all times and some may need reminding.

•    Data usage is determined by each family and Demi-Pairs have to adapt to what their host families provide. A gentle reminder will help or you can ask your Demi-Pair to pay for extra usage after a couple of warnings and inform us if this happens.

•    In Korea many people sleep on mats which they pack away neatly in the morning. They also shower before going to bed so they don’t make the bed dirty and the bedding is only washed every few months. Some Demi-Pairs may need a little reminding about the need to wash their bedding more frequently in Australia.

•    Host families need to provide meals to their own family’s standards and sizes. If this is not enough for your Demi-Pair, it is expected that she/he buys their own snacks or extra food.

•    If you find your Demi-Pair is struggling when it comes to interacting and playing with your children, please have a chat to her/him and suggest some ideas for games and things to do. You can ask your Demi-Pair to do more housework instead of helping with children and please talk to us if this is the case in your placement.

•    If your Demi-Pair does not complete the jobs on their work schedule, please talk to them about this straight away and remind her/him of your expectations. Please contact us if this doesn’t change.

•    Retreating into their bedroom during working hours is not acceptable and talking to your Demi-Pair about this is important. Please contact us if you find your Demi-Pair still disappears. In the Korean culture, people are very conscious of giving each other privacy and some might go to their room waiting for further instructions.

We are here to help and support families so please feel free to contact us about any issues or concerns that may arise during your placement as every Demi-Pair is different.

27.     How to get the best from your relationship with your Demi-Pair

Here are some tips to help you get the most from your time and relationship with your Demi-Pair:
•    The more you tell us in your Family Profile Form, the easier it is for us to find the Demi-Pair who will suit your family best. We look for shared interests and personality matches that will benefit you most.

•    Hosting a Demi-Pair is a fantastic opportunity for learning and cultural exchange, especially for children. Encourage your children to ask your Demi-Pair questions about life in their home country. Ask your Demi-Pair to share songs, games, recipes, words, activities and areas of cultural interest with your family.

•    Honest, open communication is the key to a good relationship with your Demi-Pair. If language or cultural difference is ever an issue please let us know so we can help you communicate effectively.

•    Work with your Demi-Pair’s personal strengths – they may offer to help you organise an area of your home, do your children’s hair, or cook you a special meal. You could be surprised by how they can help you in ways you never expected.

•    View everything as a learning opportunity and if you’re unsure how to handle a situation please always talk to us so we can help you.

Family sign-up form

Please complete the Family Form here.

Find out when new Demi-Pairs are coming to your city:

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