Youth exchange, cultural enrichment or community benefit programs

Youth exchange program

A youth exchange program allows for cultural interaction through providing both inbound and outbound participants with the opportunity to experience living in another country, acquire life skills and gain cultural experience and mutual respect for each other's country through living in and sharing the lives of the broader community. Youth exchange organisations are expected to provide opportunities for young Australians to have a similar experience overseas.

The program allows participants aged between 18 to 30 years of age to undertake activities that provide a practical cultural enrichment training or short term employment often referred to as an 'internship'. The cultural exchange should be the primary purpose of this arrangement with the study, work-based training or employment as incidental activities.

    Internships for special programmes should in general possess the following characteristics:
  • intern is between 18 and 30 (inclusive) years of age
  • internship placement offers cultural benefit/experience
  • internship placement is directly related to the intern's previous tertiary studies
  • intern completed tertiary studies within the last three years at time of application
  • internship is a supernumerary position and does not displace an Australian employee
  • intern is under continuous supervision
  • study component is no greater than 20 per cent
  • intern has not previously undertaken an internship performing similar duties at the same skill level.


Cultural enrichment or community benefit program

A cultural enrichment or community benefit program is defined as any activity that enables exchange of differing ideas, beliefs, rituals, customs and traditions between people with different or similar ethnic or social backgrounds. The program allows people to share cultural and social experiences and knowledge in the Australian community through participation in 'activity specific' programs. Approved Australian organisations are encouraged to promote this exchange in order to foster mutual understanding and tolerance in the Australian community.

The cultural exchange should be the primary purpose of the program and any study, work-based training or employment allowed should be incidental to the programme. Tourism or training activities, as the primary objective, would not be considered a cultural enrichment or community benefit program.

Generally, participation in a cultural enrichment or community benefit program might not be less than three months and may not exceed 12 months.

    Activities that might be accepted as cultural enrichment or community benefit programs include:
  • teaching of Australian indigenous languages and cultures
  • teaching of other languages and cultures
  • volunteer community outreach work sponsored by charitable organisations
  • religious activities, including pastoral care, teaching, evangelism, renovation of cultural artefacts
  • socio-cultural activities, research and conservation, including outdoor education.


Process after the special program is approved

  • the details of the program
  • the terms and conditions for approval of the program
  • monitoring and reporting obligations
  • other undertakings and provision for reapproval and revocation of the program.

After the agreement is signed by your organisation and by us, you can then apply to become a temporary activities sponsor.

When the sponsorship is approved, you can then invite non-Australian residents to participate in your approved special program. If you are already a temporary activities sponsor, then you can commence sponsoring straight away under the terms of your agreement.

An approved special program is usually valid for three years. Continuation of a special program may, by our request, require a monitoring reports from the organisation from time to time. Failure to provide monitoring reports could result in revocation of the special program agreement.


School to School Interchange Program and School Language Assistants Programme

Schools seeking to invite people to Australia under the School to School Interchange Program or the School Language Assistants Program do not need a special program agreement.

The School to School Interchange Program allows schools in Australia (generally but not exclusively boarding schools) that have reciprocal arrangements with schools overseas to invite a participants to Australia as assistants at the school for up to 12 months. The participant must have recently completed their schooling – this is often referred to as the 'gap year' program by participating schools.

The School Language Assistants Program allows Australian schools to invite young persons, between 18 and 30 years old, from other countries, who intend to pursue a career in teaching to obtain some initial experience through assisting qualified Australian language teachers in language and cultural matters for up to 12 months. Participants should be engaged only as teaching assistants in the school. There is no requirement for individual schools in Australia to be approved to participate in this program.