Nanny, Au Pair and Alternative Care

When balancing career, relationships, family and personal commitments, it can be hard to fit it all in a day, especially when there are school pick-ups to do, lunches to organise, clothes to wash, dinners to make and floors to mop.

One of the latest trends for busy parents is to hire a nanny or au pair to help around the house with basic household duties and childcare.

Nannies and au pairs do not usually replace childcare and often parents will choose to use both. Nothing compares to the social and educational elements that long day care, child care and family day care can provide but many families these days need a little more flexibility and a lot more help around the house.

For families that; do not have set working hours, often work weekends, have the space in their homes and do not want to rely on different babysitters every week, alternative care may be an option.

But what options do you have? And what are the main differences?


  • A nanny is a fully qualified childcare provider.
  • Most parents have no problems leaving their children overnight with a nanny or letting a nanny care for their children unsupervised.
  • They may be hired to help with minor household duties.
  • They can be live in or live out and often are hired for an extensive amount of time rather than on a “as required” basis.
  • They generally work full time or part time set hours.
  • They are paid a wage.
  • Under the new Childcare Benefit Scheme, nanny care can be claimed back via the child care benefit and child care rebate.

Nanny PA

  • Nanny PAs are similar to a nanny except may also perform personal assistant duties.
  • For working professionals with their own businesses, this may be a smart option as you can deduct part of their wage as a business expense. Talk to your accountant or a nanny service to find out more.

Paid Au Pairs

  • Au pairs are “hosted” by families to help out with the chores and childcare.
  • Paid au pairs general receive $150 to $300 a week for their assistance.
  • They are not generally educated in childcare and thus are considered more as a “mum’s helper” rather than a nanny.
  • Many parents will not leave their children alone unsupervised with an au pair for extensive periods of time but this is completely the decision of the parents.
  • Au pairs often travel with families on outings and provide an extra set of hands to help out with the kids.
  • They can be live out but most are live in.
  • They generally work part-time, are hired on a short term basis (three to six months) and often are from overseas or traveling from out of state.

Mutual Exchange Au Pairs

  • These are similar to Paid Au Pairs but rather than being paid in cash, Mutual Exchange Au Pairs provide a certain amount of hours each week in exchange for room, food and board with the host family.
  • You can use an au pair or a nanny agency to find alternative care. Or, you can choose to do it yourself.
  • There are a number of databases online that can help you find the perfect match as well as local Facebook groups that advertise au pair positions in your area. Gumtree is another option when it comes to finding nannies but you will require to do all the interviewing, background and police checks yourself. Going through an agency will cost a fee but this background work is already completed for you.