Homestay Symposium: Meet the Presenters

Global Experience Australia

Ms Sonia Ortega
CEO and Founder

Sonia is committed to transforming the lives of international students in NSW. As the CEO of Global Experience Australia, she drives international education engagement and establishes invaluable partnerships in the industry. 

Global Experience provides safe homes for international students in NSW. The organisation hires multilingual teams to bridge cultural gaps and ensure effective communication with international students. Beyond this role, Sonia has engaged various industry bodies, educational associations, and government initiatives to support the growth and development of the international education sector in NSW. Her expertise and insights help shape policies that support the safety, welfare, and success of international students in NSW. Sonia and her team have placed over 175,000 international students in safe homes.

Edgewise Insurance Brokers

Ms Vanessa Collins
Professional Risks and Affinity Manager

Vanessa has over 30 years’ experience in the insurance industry. Her expertise spans broking and underwriting including program design and placement in both local and international markets. She has spent over 15 years in roles involving binder and specialist portfolio and scheme set up and management including wording creation, systems implementation, loss ratio management and program remediation. Vanessa has also spent time in compliance and operational roles in both broking and underwriting and claims giving her very broad industry experience.

Australian Homestay Network (AHN)

Mr David Bycroft
Founder and Executive Director

David has been a global pioneer in the industry since 1999. He originally led the successful student insurance program for Allianz. In 2007 he founded the Australian Homestay Network (AHN). David has been a key contributor to Government inquiries on international student welfare and accommodation.

David is known for delivering effective international student accommodation solutions that work in the current accommodation crisis.

UOW College Australia

Alison Blakey
Manager Admissions, Homestay and Study Tours

Alison is currently working as Manager of Admissions, Homestay and Study Tours at UOW College Australia. The UOW College Australia homestay program began more than 25 years ago and has diligently cared for thousands of students and host families during that time. Having hosted in the homestay program before joining UOW College in 2019, Alison offers a unique perspective to the inner workings of the homestay industry.

Alison is passionate about the role the homestay industry plays in not only supporting international students while studying in Australia but also in fostering an inclusive community which embraces diverse cultures.

Study Vision

Youssef Ehab

Youssef Ehab is a Director of Study Vision, a well-established accommodation provider with extensive experience in assisting students and guests find their ideal place to stay. Together with wife and partner, Marina Wan, Youssef co-founded Study Vision in 1997.

Youssef has played a pivotal role in expanding the business on a national scale. He oversees client agreements with host families, universities, colleges, and agents. Youssef is also responsible for ensuring full compliance of the business operations with all government regulations. His unwavering commitment is to advance Study Vision’s mission and contribute to the growth of the Homestay Industry.