COVID-19: CAAW student FAQs

The frequently asked questions apply to CRICOS schools with Confirmation of Appropriate Accommodation and Welfare (CAAW) students remaining in Australia over the December–January holiday period.  To print a copy of the FAQs see:

Frequently asked questions 

1. What arrangements should schools make for CAAW students staying in Australia over the holidays?

Schools should develop a plan that manages the accommodation, support and general welfare of CAAW students staying in Australia over December 2020 and January 2021, including:

  • providing information to parents on the school boarding or homestay accommodation arrangements
  • ensuring students understand the action they need to take to keep themselves COVID-safe including, but not limited to, understanding the Victorian government requirements of social distancing, use of facemasks and any travel limitations that apply
  • evaluating students' individual accommodation and support needs and the students' capacity to cope with extended absence from family
  • evaluating the school's capacity to provide appropriate boarding or homestay accommodation and international student coordinator support.

Schools need to ensure that decisions regarding CAAW students are in the best interests of the child, and that students who need to return home over summer holidays depart at the end of the school year.

2. What arrangements should schools make for international student coordinator support? 

Schools need to have sufficient international student coordinator (ISC) staff on duty over the summer period to effectively support and monitor CAAW students.

ISC staff must explain to students matters arising from the Victorian Chief Health Officer's advice and directions which may affect their stay.

If schools arrange a roster of ISC staff over the holiday period, the school must provide all international students, parents and homestay providers with appropriate information, including ISC staff mobile contact details.

3. How frequently should school ISCs contact CAAW students over the summer period?

Schools are best placed to determine the frequency of ISC contact with its CAAW students. This should be based on the school's evaluation of the student's age, maturity, individual and family circumstances. Schools should engage with CAAW students' parents and homestay providers in developing their CAAW student monitoring plan and note significant contact outcomes in PRISMS and school records.

Schools must monitor the Victorian government's advice on matters relating to COVID-19 and assess implications for the care, safety and welfare of their students. 

4. What are the accommodation options for CAAW students?

The VRQA Guidelines for the Enrolment of Overseas Students Aged Under 18 require that CRICOS registered schools ensure students on CAAW arrangements reside in:

  • the CRICOS school's boarding facility, or
  • local homestay accommodation arranged, vetted and monitored by the school.

Schools cannot place CAAW students in commercial accommodation options such as student hostels or residential school holiday programs provided by third parties.

Where CAAW students move from a school boarding facility to a school arranged homestay, or between school arranged homestays, the school must update the student's accommodation details in PRISMS and their records.

Some homestay providers may seek to take a break from providing homestay accommodation over the summer period. Schools may need to arrange alternative and reserve homestay accommodation. Some homestay families may welcome the option to host an additional student over the summer period. All homestay arrangements must meet the school and the VRQA Guideline requirements for homestay accommodation.

For information, see:

5. Can schools undertake site visits of prospective or current homestays remotely?

Yes. During COVID-19 schools can undertake site visits of prospective or current homestays remotely (using mobile phone camera, video calls etc.) providing all elements of the homestay checks are completed.

6. During the holidays, can CAAW students in homestay share a bedroom with another student?

Yes, providing the school has confirmed:

  • the student will be sharing the room with a student of the same gender
  • the accommodation arrangements are appropriate to the student's needs
  • the student's parents have given informed consent. 

Schools may wish to recruit additional homestay accommodation with families from their school or local community, enabling CAAW students to reside with another international or local school student. Relatives hosting a student who are approved by the Department of Home Affairs, can also be approved by a school as a homestay provider if they wish to host another student during the summer holidays.

7. Can CAAW students in homestay go on holidays with their homestay provider family?

Schools can approve homestay families taking a CAAW international student with them on their holidays within Victoria, providing the school has confirmed that the proposed accommodation arrangements are appropriate to the student's needs and the parents of the student have given informed consent. 

Schools should ensure that homestay families and students are aware of any COVID-19 restrictions in the location(s) they are travelling to.

8. What is the school's responsibility for Year 12 CAAW students completing their course in December 2020?

The CAAW arrangements cease for Year 12 international students who are aged 18 years or over as soon as the school course they are enrolled in ends.  From the course end date in December 2020, the student is a former student of the school. 

CRICOS schools that have Year 12 CAAW students who will be under the age of 18 years at the course end date should contact VRQA for further information regarding the school's responsibilities.

9. Can CRICOS schools jointly provide school holiday activity programs for CAAW students?  

Yes. CRICOS schools that are providing school holiday activity programs for international students may wish to engage with other CRICOS schools to jointly provide activities.  

10. Do CRICOS schools need to consider international students residing in Australia with Department of Home Affairs approved relatives?

CRICOS schools do not have responsibility for the accommodation or for the welfare of international students residing with relatives approved by the Department of Home Affairs (DHA) outside school hours. Some of these students staying in Australia over the summer holidays will experience a long separation from parents.

We encourage schools to engage with DHA-approved relatives and provide ISC contact details for the holiday period and make contact with students periodically throughout December –January.

11. If CAAW students need to return home, are there any special travel requirements?

Schools should ensure that return travel arrangements for CAAW students do not include overnight transit stops in Sydney or other Australian cities. Schools should keep in contact with the student during domestic transfers, confirm when the student departs Australia and note in school records and PRISMS when they arrive home. 

There are additional COVID-19 testing requirements for all students returning to China.

For information, see:

12. Where can I get more information?

The Department of Education and Training's website has advice, guidance and support for managing and responding to coronavirus (COVID-19) in Victorian schools.

For more information, see:

If you have specific queries, please contact Gary Bourton, VRQA International Education Manager at: