Exchange Program

Information for Prospective Long Term Youth Exchange Applicants

Download this information in PDF format here: Information for Prospective Applicants (LTYE)

Long-term student youth exchange provides a unique opportunity for young Australians to experience at first hand the many cultures of a different country, including in most instances another language. Often the friendships they make will be life-long and important in achieving the aims of the exchange - the building of goodwill and understanding between countries.

Here is some initial information for you to consider before making such a significant decision:

  • applications close 30th April (with some flexibility) and interviews are held in June
  • students are away from January to January.  Rotarians accompany students from Australia to the main city of their country of destination - Rotarians from the host country meet the students at any domestic flights beyond that main city
  • The exchange cannot be a gap year - students must be returning to complete their secondary education in Australia - this is the ruling of the respective Education Departments throughout Australia with whom Rotary must comply.   Credits towards the student’s secondary certificate can be given for a study year overseas, on application to the respective Education Board. Check out the relevant website:
  • country of first choice is not guaranteed, although we do try. We need to meet reciprocal agreements with overseas countries
  • sponsor club in the student’s local area is allocated and this club provides a counsellor.  The sponsor club provides funding for such items as jacket, business cards, backpack etc.
  • The overseas country appoints a host club which also provides a counsellor.  Host families (usually 2-4 for the year) are all police checked & interviewed by Rotary officials. These families provide accommodation & meals & often take the students on holidays/outings.
  • Rotary Clubs like to have the student involved (this also varies depending on the club), in particular to speak at meetings, so students’ skills in public speaking are developed.


Cost for the 12 months exchange is $9100 which covers all return flights, visa, airlines fuel levy, tour leaders levy, travel insurance & overseas medical insurance.  

Payments are to be made in 3 instalments:

  • $200 non-refundable deposit prior to District interviews held in June
  • $4500 in August
  • $4400 in December

An optional tour is offered by some countries e.g. the Euro tour, and this is an additional cost of approximately $2500.  

An emergency fund of $A400 is also required by the host country and this is refunded at completion of the exchange if not used.  

While there are invariably extra expenses, remember parents need to consider these amounts against what it normally costs to keep their son or daughter for 12 months living at home!  

Scholarships are available to assist where there is financial need.  A separate committee from District 9520 Youth Exchange Committee which selects the students for overseas exchange manages the scholarship applications. There is a link on our website. 

A newly introduced Youth Opportunities Grant will be available from 2017. This grant aims to fully fund a student based on financial need as well as other criteria.  Again there is a link on our website.

Students receive a monthly allowance from their host Rotary Club of $A120 although returned students tell us that is not enough!  Students are encouraged to get a part-time job as soon as they start thinking about exchange, and save towards contributing to costs, or at least for extra spending money when away. 

So you can see there is much to consider! 

The formal application is extensive and includes requirements for school reports, medical and dental clearances, and letters from parents/guardians as well as from the student him/herself.  This is because Rotary is very focused on duty of care responsibilities and we do our utmost to ensure the exchange experience will be a positive one. This means we will ensure only applicants who are suitable will be selected.

During exchange, students invariably grow in self-confidence, tolerance and self-reliance, learning to accept greater responsibility in everyday life.  This comes about as there is need to adapt to unfamiliar surroundings and customs, not all of which the student might be comfortable with.  To live away from home for 12 months is a demanding yet rewarding experience.  It may not always be smooth sailing and a great strength of character, tolerance and an understanding may be needed.

Rotary Youth Exchange Australia has exchange agreements with over 30 countries worldwide.  Countries District 9520 exchanges with include:

  • Austria
  • Belgium
  • Brazil
  • Canada
  • Denmark
  • Finland
  • Germany
  • Italy
  • Japan
  • Netherlands
  • Norway
  • Switzerland
  • Taiwan
  • USA

Application Process

The Rotary Youth Exchange program is open to secondary enrolled students who are between the ages of 15 and 17 at the time of departure (mid-January in each year). Please note not all countries accept students at the higher age limit.  Unfortunately a "gap year" is no longer accepted.

Students are interviewed by a local Rotary Club who agrees to sponsor them and this is indicated on the student’s application form.  The club also appoints a counsellor.

Applicants, parents and counsellors are interviewed in June by the District 9520 Youth Exchange Committee. Successful applicants are then nominated to an overseas District for their consideration.

Once accepted, training and information sessions are organised for successful students and their parents.  These are held between August and December.  Areas such as personal safety, communication skills, public speaking, conflict management, travel wisdom, and cultural awareness are covered.  A representative from our travel agent, Terra Australis, attends one of these sessions and provides invaluable information regarding student visa arrangements, and travel matters.   Terra Australis maintains ongoing contact with families from this point on, keeping student and parents informed of progress along the way.

The student’s sponsor club will expect the student to attend a meeting prior to departure and address the club.

A comprehensive manual is provided to students for easy reference while they are away (and in case they haven’t listened at the briefing sessions!)

Allocation of countries to students

Soon after the District interviews, the Committee allocates each student a country.  This is based on

  • the student’s choice,
  • the availability of places in overseas countries,
  • the Committee's assessment of the student’s ability to cope with a particular country or language.

Once notified of the country allocated, the student and family must sign an acceptance of placement form.  Paperwork is then sent to the Youth Exchange District of the allocated country.

The overseas District committee assesses the application and chooses an appropriate Rotary club in their district to host the student.  Acceptance cannot be guaranteed, however we have reciprocal arrangements with most countries and they do endeavour to find a host club for students whose applications we send them. On rare occasions, an application needs to be sent to a different country than first allocated.

The overseas placement process can take several months as sometimes applications need to go to more than one Rotary Club before a placement can be confirmed.  Guarantee forms need to be signed by the Rotary Club’s President, by the School Principal where the student will attend, by the student’s first host family and the Club appointed counsellor. 

It is not uncommon for some students not to know exactly where they are going until November or even December, though most know earlier.

Rules and Obligations

Students are required to adhere to the laws of the host country at all times, as well as the rules of the youth exchange program, as defined by both the hosting and sponsoring districts. These are based on common sense and relate to personal behaviour, safety and the expectations of being an ambassador for their country, their family, themselves and Rotary.

These rules include no drinking, no drug taking, no driving, no dating and no decorating (tattoos or body piercings) – the 5 ‘D’s!    District 9520 Youth Exchange Committee has also implemented a social media policy which must be agreed to by students before they go on exchange.  The policy outlines our expectations of respectful social media use by prohibiting any activity which is of a defamatory, discriminatory or harassing nature, including sexting or sharing such information.  Any breaking of these rules can lead to the exchange being cancelled and the student being returned home at additional expense.

On completion of the exchange students must return to Australia by the most direct route as arranged by the district committee/travel agent.

All students are required to attend a secondary level school for the duration of the exchange.

Contacts for further information

First point of Contact is your Group Coordinator.

 Outbound Coordinator; Helen Gooley   0402 482 441   Turn on Javascript!

District 9520 Chairperson: Gayl Sparnon   0488 448 131   Turn on Javascript!

Rotary District 9520
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