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 FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS & ADVICE

People are constantly asking questions and looking for advice.  Over the years I have compile answers from governesses and parents and put them on the website.  No questions is to silly and if you look at the page more than likely the answer is there.  Some of these questions were put together over 10 years ago but amazingly the question and answer has not changed. 

UNLEASH and Unload Chat Hour Questions

 

 

 

Advice & Tips from parents and governesses

60 Platinum Tips for Governessing

Getting Ready to head to the Outback / What to take

Often governesses are being partly cooked and cleaned up after.  If you boss does provide meals and you use the facilities within their house then please help keep it tidy.  If you see a job (I.E. wiping table or benches, putting away food, dishes)  then please do it.  In any living environment everyone need to do their part and it is not something that you need to be paid.

CHILDREN NEED TO BE DOING THEIR OWN SCHOOLWORK.  NOT WRITING YOUR IDEAS DOWN.

You are an employee not a member of the family or best friend.  That is not to say you won't be close to them and included on everything as if you were part of the family.  Treat the honour given to governesses with respect.

..GIVE THEM AND YOURSELF SPACE.. To keep a good relationship with you and the family you both need space, even if you or they say they don't need it.  To last the year or more you do.  In a normal 9 to 5 jobs you would not be spending all of your time with your employers.

The kids need a governess first and a friend second.  Be fun but strict in school time it pays dividends in the long run. 

In Home Care Educators are employed to care for the children.  This means if the educator is needed to get the children a meal, clean up after them around they house, do the children's washing or other task which is to do with the children's care then it is reasonable to include as part of their job description and they are being paid to achieve these jobs. Under In Home Care rules the educators are not employed to care for the adults or other people living in the community.

Be up front about your job description

Most situations in a working relationship come from an employer not having a honest description of the regular week or the employer not following the job description.  Write things down verbal agreements  

UNLEASH and UNLOAD CHAT HOUR QUESTIONS

 

My boss has asked my to stay with the kids on the property for two nights while they are away. What questions or information should I find out before they go?

Phone Numbers of them, RFDS or doctor


Where the basic medications are and weight of children should a emergency arise and you have to administer medications.


Is there anything outside the house and kids that needs to be monitored? dogs, pets, house water, etc.


Maybe ask your boss those questions? :)


do they have any house rules the kids will "forget" about? Things the parents say often get distorted when the kids tell it...


The usual you would need to know who to contact in an emergency; bedtimes, what they can eat etx

 

I am looking at online websites like READING EGGS which have activities which are for all ages and they just start at Level one and continue.


I have a preschooler and Y1 and Y3 who all need assistance. They love the computer as it is a treat. I want something they can do a bit independantly rather than me having to stand at their should reading instructions.


reading doctor


Reading eggs definitely is worthwhile. My boss swears by it and her daughter is a good reader for her age.



Reading Eggs is great. For free sites, try StudyLadder and IXL.

 

Before applying for a job does anybody contact previous govies and what questions do you ask?

My answer when I saw this question was... I do because while everything they say will be positive they will give you an idea on what the kids are like and what the work day consists of. What the schoolroom and quarters are actually like? etc. Cheers Lee-Anne


What would you suggest to do if the family has never had a Govie previously? 


When I first considerered taking the job, In Home Care said they'd contact the previous govie to ask if there was anything I needed to know about the family. So I never talked with the previous govie myself but IHC would have told me if there was anything important I should know


I never have but i think its a good idea. I'd want to know how much enjoyment they got out of their job, and if their employers were nice people.


If they offer contact details of a worker of another kind or even at a pinch another school family or teacher but only a pinch. I do know employers who offer a referee of a overseering family on the property and a past worker.


i know I want to talk to the next govie to make sure they are good for my family....


Works two ways, doesn't it. Employers contact previous employers, therefore makes sense for govies to contact previous govies. When you are employing or working in the bush you have to do your homework first, because it is not easy just to bail out if something doesn't suit.


My employer gave me the contacts of past govies and I rang one and emailed the other and actually have meet up in person with one of the past govies and it's really good if they have left on good terms as a support for you at times if something gets a little hectic n you don't no how to handle it as they also have known what the kids are like in the classroom and out of class.


a family i worked for checked up on my referees but they didnt supply any for me to contact even though they had previous govies & nannys. I only knew what i had my self in for when i got there and a teacher pulled me aside, it made sense why they didnt give me anyone to contact. My best advice if you supply one they should too. It will now be a thing i will ask for, if they hesitate there usually is a reason why. Just with my experience anyway :) 


I never have, but I met my first family and really liked them, didn't research my second or third (third sucked), and you know/recommended my last two families. In summary, it's a great idea to at least ask Governess Australia, because there's a good chance that clever lady will be able to give you a heads up.


I wish our new govies would talk to the old so they got an understanding of what our daily life is like!


What sort of things do you do as IN school time treats or quick treats?

 

Games, games, games and games. UNO, card games, board games, computer games, ball games, free play too.

 
Connect four or guess who are my favourite treats in school

 

My kids at the moment love dancing or music time and we also have a cardboard cubby on a big verandah which they are always playing in as a treat of 10 minutes. Time in our library with the books and puzzles is also a good one

 

Read a book for 10mins. My kids love it

 

Were lucky enough to have a trampoline, so I do five minute brain breaks with them

 

We do lots of dancing

We don't have a lot of time for treats, but we take turns picking music, or play 'friends of ten' go fish.


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMONLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Do I need training or qualifications

Governessing or Home Tutor roles do not require you to have a degree in teaching or childcare.

Childcare in general does require you to have a Senior (Applied) First Aid Certificate.

I do recommend to governesses and teaching mums interesting in gaining confidence and increasing skills to study Certificate 3 in Education.  It is a teachers aide / learning support certificate and a course which you could complete as you are governessing.

I have studied this course and found it beneficial to my governessing.  Some Distance Ed schools (SA and QLD) offer the course through the schools for parents and governesses.  I studied mine through Post Augusta School Of The Air and the Spencer Institute of TAFE and found the course perfectly suited to my situation.

In the future all childcare workers will need either a Certificate 3 in Education or Children Services.

 

Can I be a governess ... ?

To be a governess you need to be flexible and adaptable.  You will be living with a family who's beliefs might not always be the same as your own.  You have to remember that you are only there for a year or 2 at the most, but for all that I have worked for some fantastic families, I haven't always shared theIr parenting beliefs but they are not my children no matter how much I care for them and no matter how much I disagree or agree with the parents I have still gotten along with them. 

If you are interested in governessing on want to talk to other governesses about the experience then Join OUTBACK GOVIES yahoo group by going to the appropriate page on Governess Australia.   I have lived in the bush all my life and have completed my primary education through distance education and wouldn't change it.  If you get on outback govies there are girls for all walks of life from the city slicker to the country bumpkin like me.  One thing I do know is that over the years most ex-governess have kept coming back to visit.

Governessing IS A LIFESTYLE NOT JUST A JOB. 

Governessing is a lifestyle, the moneys not always great and the conditions can be dusty, but fun that seems to spring out of these moments is great and one thing that will come out of the experience is more knowledge of yourself and your strengths and talents.

  By Lee-Anne Bright

Are families willing to take on someone in over 30?!

YES! YES! YES

Governessing in your 30's is the new "black" or at least that is what I keep spreading around.  What can I say I now fit into this age bracket.

Maturity - Life Experience - Stability - Committed

Employers love the stability of someone who is making a choice and fully understands that choice to come out governessing.  Someone with life experience that won't take off at the drop of a hat without notice.  Someone who won't panic but will seek help.

Age is no barrier it is an advantage. 

I have worked with governesses from 18 to 75.  One governess at 65 spend 3 years on a property living in a cottage with her husband who was slowing down.

I have no experience in being a governess is this a negative?

I don't think you need to have any experience. You do need to have a passion for working with children, common sense, a lot of general knowledge (or at least know how to find the answer to any number of ridiculous question) and very resourceful.

What qualities do I look for, so that I am treated well?

The qualities to look for is a difficult question to answer. My advice would be to find someone you think you will be able to relate to and someone with the same sort of values as yourself. I find it is really important to have the full support of the parents of the kids. If your ideas are totally different it causes huge problems. Also remember that socially a lot of what you do is linked to the station. If you enjoy going out to rodeo's, race weekends, bbq's etc then ask about how social they are or if you don't enjoy these do you have to go. Wages vary heaps-I would expect something around the $600 mark.

Needs and qualities depend on the individual who is looking for a job.  At the interview ask as many questions as possible.  If you can ask them to write it down so that you have a written copy of the job expectations and conditions.  Or they might have a contract with these in.  If you have any doubts then ask questions.  To be treated fairly it needs to be clear at the start exactly what is expected of you.  You need to respect their ways, it is most likely that you will only be at the job for a year or maybe 2.  If your ideas are to different and you don't feel you can be adaptable enough to live and work under them then don't take the job.  It isn't right for you.

What to ask about at an interview?

  • You need to ask about the students, their ages and any know difficulties.  If you are able to contact there teacher or previous governess for information.
  • Salary, ask about board, are holidays paid, what comes under your expenses and what is supplied by your employers.  Don’t make this your first questions as it tends to be off putting for employers
  • Hours of Work, (remember sometimes on a station it requires you to be flexible)
  • Accommodation
  • Meals, are they with the family,  is there any particular time that the family would like some privacy?
  • Mail, address, phone number, Will you have access to internet. What are the conditions on telephone calls.
  • Transport, if you don't have a car then how will you get to the station, will it be possible to catch a ride to social events. 
  • Expectations and conditions, Clearly find out what jobs and chores you will be responsible for both in and out of school, that are part of you wage.  Most employer expect you to help with dishes or around mealtimes as part of your board.  Find out what is expected and what's not.
  • More information about this is available on the Jobseekers page of the JobBoard link at the top of the page.

Should I change my car registration, voting etc.?

  • I never have. I have always kept it at my parents address because I consider myself a travelling worker who lives at my work... my home is actually my parents house
  • I'm from SA and this is my second yr in qld.. Like Lee-Anne if I get asked about it I just say I'm here for work and my residential address is in SA. Tell them I work ten weeks on two weeks off
  • Not unless you plan on staying in the territory. I'd suggest changing your address on the electoral roll though, or at least calling them about postal voting.
  • I have done the same as what Lee-Anne has written. I am a traveling working and at the end of the day the station is not my permanent home.

17 questions about life on station ...

Thanks to Lee-Anne, Bec and Jacqui, Cat, Hayley, Mel, Lisa for their answers.   I would also like to thank everyone else who sent in a answer and apologise to those we haven't put up but they were very similar to the ones are have.

1.     Approximately, how many people usually live and work on a station?

  • There can be you and the family or as many as 10 to 15.  It depends on the station. Most stations have only a few workers. 
  • It depends on the size of the station, where I am at the moment only has one permanent stationhand plus me and the family whereas the last place had 6, the family and me.
  • On our station we have about 20, but we are the largest cattle station in the world, usually there are a lot less!
  • On mine there were 8, 5 family, 2 ringers and me.
  • We have 12 people employed currently plus two children
  • For all the people I have governessed for it has just been the family and I.

 

2.     Do they all socialise together?

  • Usually they do although on the station sometime there are rules as to whether boys can come into the govies quarters.  Often there is a lounge area which everyone can use and socialise together.  Off station it's in your own time but remember you are often at the same social occasions as the family you work for so be discreet or the kids will spend Monday teasing you and each time this happens you lose a little bit of respect from them. 
  • Once again it depends...the other employee here with me is a 40 year old man so I don't tend to socialise with him too often.  My family are pretty quiet and don't tend to go out too much.
  • Yes we do, after work and on weekends. We are fortunate enough to have the small town of William Creek close by so we can go there for a night out.
  • Yeah every one gets on well. We go to town occasionally together, all eat together. Just the basics.
  • I am always involved in the activities that the family does.


3.     What sort of people are they? I.e. backpackers, professional farmhands etc

  • You get a great mix of people working on a station.  The main jobs are cook, governess, stationhand, overseer (like an assistant manager), the manager.  Remember not all stations have people working for them.
  • All of our staff are trained ringers or in on the job training.
  • 1 ringer was a city boy with no experience, the other a professional stockman

 

4.     What do people do for recreation?

  • A lot of my weekend time gets spent in town at the pub mostly and there's always plenty going on if you don't mind a bit of a drive.  The Govies from the area are usually in the process of planning weekends and social activities.
  • We go horse riding, go for walks, go to gymkhanas and race meetings, go to the pub, get together to chill out and watch a lot of DVDs and videos.
  • Whatever comes to mind.  We tend to make our own fun.
  • TV, walk, read, play station, horses and more horses
  • Go into town or go to Gymkhana's and rodeo's.


5.     Does it get boring?

  • Yes it can, it's just like living anywhere.
  • It's worthwhile to have a hobby or something that you can do in your downtime when your not in the school room or helping out with the kids, some people choose to do further study in their spare time.  Living on a station is never boring, there is always something to do, you just have to find it! 
  • No there is always plenty to
  • do, I am always busy doing something.
  • No way. There is always something happening.
     

6.     How much teaching is involved in governessing or is it mainly supervising the kids?

  • I'd say its a little of both.  But if you have problems or don't know how to teach the child something then contact your teacher, they are qualified and paid to help in anyway possible. 
  • The major part of a governesses job is the teaching.  There may be times where you have to supervise the kids because the parents are away or busy and sometimes you may be needed to help out in the kitchen with meals, but the majority of your time will be in the schoolroom.
  • My role is purely teaching, however other govo's do tend to be involved in before and after school care of the children. 
  • Lots of teaching, as much teaching as in a town school room
  • Mainly supervising the kids. My kids are really good so they don't need much teaching. They just do their work and I assist them in anyway I can.
    I Do 10 hours a day.  8 of them are teaching.


7.     How much spare time does the governess get?

  • Depending on the job.  Some work from 8am to 3pm and then their time is there own from there.  Others as part of there job have longer work hours.  It is something that needs to be talked about at the interviewing stage.
  • Most school days will finish around 3pm and from my experience the time between then and dinner (or if you're needed to help in the kitchen) is your own, as well has having weekends to yourself.
  • I start at 8.00 and finish at 3.00 my time out of hours is mine after that.  My weekends are free, however we do go out and help if the others are working.


 8.     What is there to do in the spare time?

  • I myself spend a lot of time on the computer, reading, walking, and helping out on the station.  If you have a car then you might be able to visit a neighbour or local town if there is one close.
  • I have found that generally a lot of my spare time is used to play fun games, go bushwalking and other kinds of fun stuff with the kids.  Either that or using the time to do extra study or any hobbies you may have.
  • I wrote a lot of letters
  • There is always heaps to do. Cleaning, going through work, committee work (such as DES), checking the kids work that they have done.
    I am always welcome to join in on the mustering or the activities for the day.


9.     What happens to you if you get sick out there? What medical treatment is there?

  • You will be either taken to town or the Royal Flying Doctors will be called.  If the station has a Flying doctors medical kit then upon ringing the flying doctors and explaining the they can often prescribe medication then and there and recommend the correct medical action. The Flying Doctors often have clinic at nearby stations and small towns on a regular basis. Talk to your boss about it.
  • There is usually a hospital/doctor/nurse in the closest town for medical needs, and the flying doctors for emergencies.  You will generally find that a lot of people on the station have a first aid certificate.

 

10. How do you cope with the isolation? Is it difficult?

  • By not isolating myself.  I contact and get involved with other governesses.  Join local committees and get to know people in the community.  I also use the phone, fax and email to keep in touch with old friends.
  • At first it may be a bit difficult, especially if you're not fully prepared for what you're getting into.  If you have a good idea of where you're going and what's around it probably won't be as bad because you won't expect to have trips to town every week or whatever.  Once you make some friends in the area it becomes much easier and having a good govie network is also a great advantage because you can talk to others in the same situation.
  • No, I love it here, but we are fortunate enough to have lots of great people here to mix with so you are never lonely or bored.  We also have William Creek and Coober Pedy fairly close by so you can escape on weekends if you need to.
  • Yes it is difficult, you will have great days and you will have days where you feel so cut off you could die and no one would know
  • I have been brought up in isolation so I love it. Some people have trouble with it simply because they miss the city lifestyle. But you make new friends who will help you in anyway. A really good idea is to have lots of contact with other govo's because you aren't on your own.
    Some days it is really hard and you just want to be in a place were there is lots of people but there is always people to talk to out here.
  • You do get used to it.  You really do have to give it a fair go.  Don't expect to decide in a week.

 

11. What advice can you give a typical city girl interested in the job?

  • Read as much as you can on this website.  Join Outback Govies yahoo group and ask questions there and at your interview ask as many questions as possible.  Forewarned is Forearmed. 
  • It is a fantastic experience for anyone who's interested in the job and what it entails.  It really helps if you can get in contact with someone who has worked at that property before to get some information about it, rather than just showing up not having any idea.  Don't expect it to be a breeze straight away, you have to get to know each child individually and be able to talk to them on their level.  Once you have that mastered you'll be right, they'll be your best friends - especially if they know you have surprises for them every so often!  
  • Well I am from the city too, but wanted to live in the outback and I guess that if you want to do it and are prepared to make the most of it would surely be worth it.  A strong personality and a positive frame of mind would be needed because it would be unfair on the children if you decided that the outback wasn't for you and wanted to give it up.  People out here tend to be lovely and friendly and if you like to get in amongst it all and soak up the whole experience it is definitely worth doing.
  • Have a good support network at home, keep in touch with friends, call home often, get to know the family but keep a professional distance, get to know the locals, you will only have a year, every interaction is crucial, they will want to get to know you but will be shy.  if the going gets tough call someone, get to know the other governesses, try not to bitch about the other govo's, love the environment, realise its not forever, don't marry a ringer
  • Give it ago. Talk to someone that has done it before. When making inquires about a job ask lots of questions.
  • Bring something that you like to do with you, have lots of photos and you need to have lots and lots of patience to work with the children.
  • I am from the Sunshine Coast and I have never looked back.  Just prepare yourself as best as you can and come into it with an open mind.  There are always people who are willing to help you.


12.  Do the governesses usually have to get involved in the everyday farm work? I.e. with animals etc

  • Depending on the job and person.  For some govo's it is part of there job description and for others it's fun and something to do to fill in the spare time.  Personally I love it.
  • Mostly no, but the option is there if you're willing to have a go at it.  Sometimes duties like feeding chickens and animals in the house yard may be expected of you.
  • No but I do because I love that type of work too.
  • All places are different. People expect different things. I know the company I work for the govo's are required to help the cook for example after tea the dishes. Also the gardens around the schoolhouse. Also I help with the animals.


13.  Does that governess have to look after the children in after school hours?

  • In my current job I only work 8am to 3pm and whatever preparation time I need.  But in previous jobs I have been responsible for the kids up until 5pm.  Sometimes if you boss is away or out helping then they might ask you to take care of the kids until they get home.
  • Generally the governess will be around to help out the children with anything they may be doing after school hours.  The afternoon may be used to do fun craft activities that don't relate directly to school work or to do other fun things.
  • I look after the children after school and some days I have them all day depending on how busy my boss is.


14.  What do the school holidays entail? Can you stay on the farm or do you have to go?

  • Almost all governesses get school holidays off and are able to go away.  I personally recommend going away so that you and the family get a break for each other.  If you still need to work then see if you can get a job somewhere else that doesn't involve kids to give yourself a break. Most families are quite happy to have you stay over the school holidays. There are really no set rules but it helps you keep your sanity if you can get away once in a while! We can stay if you want, our holidays are unpaid, but there is no pressure to go away, it's really up to you.
  • I think by the time holidays are here govo's are looking to go away for a break. 
  • I go home for school holidays on because you have been with the children for so long you usually need a break for a little while.

15.  Where can I find out about the major stations to send them a CV?

  • Go to the Governess Australia JobBoard and look through Positions Advertised
  • A lot of people advertise though outback books and  newspapers. Such as Stock Journal, Queensland Country life, Rm Williams Outback magazine.

16.  What are the children usually like? Respectful or disobedient?

  • Kids out here are great overall they are usually more respectful than kids in face to face school as they are taught very young when it's appropriate to swear and when not.  But remember they are just kids and all kids are little rats at times.
  • Every child is different.  It depends on how the governess before you (if there was one) has worked in the school room and how you interact with them.  Occasionally you hear horror stories about some places but I think the child's behaviour is mostly influenced by how you deal with them.  The worst problem child can be transformed if you deal with them in the right way.
  • All kids are different
  • Children out here are very polite and they enjoy having someone else to talk to and play with.

 
17.   How often do the people on the stations get in to a town?

  • That depends on where the station is.  It might be once a week, fortnight or once a month.  It depend on how close town is.  Some station get there stores out by mail so these families don't need to go in as often.
  • Depending on how close the nearest town is. A lot of govies get to town most weekends or have plans with others road tripping to rodeos etc.  Even if you don't get to town on the weekend you will usually find the neighbours will come over or some sort of social activity will be planned in the area.
  • Whenever you need to!
  • We don't go into town that often it just depends what school events we have got on. I usually go to town by myself and catch up with friends at least once every couple of weeks.