Where we’ve come from

AFX Student Exchange was started when Elisabeth Thomas, a mère de famille in Paris, was looking for an exchange program for her daughter. What she found was a host of organisations offering generic programs to many different countries. Elisabeth had a feeling that if her daughter was well matched with an Australian host family and correspondent, the benefits of the exchange would be far greater.

Unable to find anything that offered the experience she was after, Elisabeth contacted her friend Ben in Melbourne. Ben had participated in an exchange in Bordeaux with his high school Melbourne Grammar School from which he came back passioné with France and French. Elisabeth charged Ben to find the ideal host family for her daughter.

Elisabeth’s daughter Vinciane was the first student to benefit from the personalised approach taken in organising her exchange.

Word spread, demand grew and in 2001, Elisabeth and Ben established AFX.

Since, AFX has grown and we now offer a range of programs between Australia and France. The one thing that hasn’t changed? The care and attention we put into every student’s needs to create their perfect French experience.


We have a large community of local representatives, in France and Australia, helping us deliver great programs all the way.
Meet some of them below.

Vinciane Thomas
General Manager

Vince was AFX’s first-ever student exchange participant, visiting Australia at the age of 15 back in 1998. At that stage, she was an enthusiastic but unexceptional student of English. She spent five weeks with her lovely Australian host family where she was given the chance to attend St Catherine’s School in Toorak. She had such an amazing time that she came back and settled in Australia in 2006. Vinciane has a Bachelor of International Law from Université Paris X and a Masters of International Business from Monash University.

Tom Jepson
Operations and Systems

Born and raised in Melbourne, Tom dropped French as a school subject after only one year, believing he would never need it. After finishing school, he traveled to France to race as a professional triathlete, and quickly realised he’d made a mistake giving up the language. After living and racing in France, Tom returned to Australia with a passion for France and a new desire to improve his language skills. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Diplomacy from Monash University and is a Qualified Education Agent Counsellor, trained to help place French students within the Australian education system.

Sophie Benardeau-Short
AFX Representative in Victoria

French teacher, coach, and cross-cultural facilitator, Sophie has been sharing her time between France and Melbourne for 30 years. After studying cinema in her native Paris, Sophie taught for 7 years at the University of Melbourne before launching Le Petit Journal, Victoria's first online daily French and cultural news outlet. With a background as a writer for SBS and ABC Radio Australia, Sophie has always been keen to facilitate exchanges between the two countries and to help people learn a new language and culture.

Melissa Bac
Enrolment Officer

Born on the beautiful island of Mauritius, where everyone is born speaking French and English fluently, Melissa has always had a soft spot for Australia, where part of her family lives.
With a background as a Copywriter & Journalist, Mélissa decided to follow her passion for languages and went on to teach English and French in schools for special needs students before joining the AFX Team.
Melissa's love for teaching along with her natural gift for language, make her a fantastic support and a great advisor for our participants.

Owen Hanson
AFX Representative in New South Wales

Owen developed a passion for language learning (French and Latin) at high school and completed a double major in German and French, followed by Honours in French at the University of Newcastle. After a year as a teaching assistant in Grenoble, he gained his Diploma of Education and went on to a long and successful career teaching French in the Australian secondary Education system. He then went on to become the Head of Languages of the prestigious Sydney school, Cranbrook School. If you apply to go on a rprogram with AFX, and you live in the Sydney area, chances are that you will meet Owen during your family interview, an incredible opportunity to get advice from a very skilled francophone and francophile education expert !

Camilla Morrone
High School Program Coordinator

Born and raised in Italy, in Milan, Camilla has always been passionate about learning foreign languages and travelling abroad.
While in high school she attended multiple language immersion programs in English-speaking countries. But her first experience living in France was during her Master's degree, studying International Management and Applied Foreign Languages, living in Brittany.
After graduating, she decided to move to France permanently where she worked as a language teacher in multiple high schools before joining the AFX team.
Thanks to these experiences, Camilla is a precious guide for our participants and their families, knowing exactly what it means to be an international student in a foreign country.

Marion Slattery
AFX Representative in Victoria

Marion is a Paris native where she gained her Master of literature at the University of Sorbonne and post studies, started working in the cinema industry. Her life changed when her now aussie husband convinced her to settle in faraway Australia. She has since been sharing her life long passion for French culture & literature at the Alliance Francaise of Melbourne. Growing up with students from all over the world hosted by her mother, she was really enriched by their friendship and feels like closing the circle by helping students coming to Australia settle in their host families.

Laura Bret
High School Program Coordinator

Born in Vietnam and raised in France, Laura always had a passion for travel and languages. She participated in student exchange programs in the United States and Canada whilst in high school.
After studying and working for many years in Paris in the Design industry, Laura decided to move to Australia back in 2017. During the years she spent living in Melbourne, Laura worked as a French tutor in order to share her love for the French language and culture.
Laura has recently joined our team after moving to WA with her French-Aussie family.

Philippe Vallantin
Flight Chaperone

Mr. Vallantin is no less than the President of The Association of French Teachers in Victoria. He is currently a Teacher of French/ VCE-IB at Lauriston Girls’ School. Not to mention that he is the perfect fit for this position, as he encourages and promotes the learning of French as an essential part of the school curriculum.
Mr. Vallantin is also a well-known writer who is respected in the author’s and publisher’s community for his several publications. They are mainly resources for students who wish to improve their French/ VCE.
Besides his impressive set of academic credentials, Mr. Vallantin has also organized himself in the past multiple tours to France for his students. It is definitely not the first time that he wears the chaperon hat. He is definitely a leader at heart.

Agathe Fournier
AFX Representative in Victoria

Agathe was born in Paris and brought up in various countries (France, Brazil and Singapore). After completing her baccalauréat in Singapore, she attended university in England where she then worked for several years. She eventually moved back to Paris and carried on working in the banking industry before relocating to Australia with her partner.
In Melbourne, she worked at the Alliance Francaise for several years, and has recently joined a primary school to teach French to the children..

Kate Champain
AFX Representative in Queensland

Hailing from Brisbane, Kate has had a lifelong passion for French language and culture since falling in love with a book about Claude Monet when she was 7 years old. After high school, Kate was lucky enough to participate in a year-long student exchange in Brittany, France, where she made incredible friends and memories. She then completed a Bachelor of Science/Arts and a Diploma in Languages at the University of Queensland, where she studied both Spanish and French. After completing her tertiary studies, Kate spent two years living in Spain working as an English teaching assistant to high school students. She has now returned to her hometown, where she continues to share her love of languages at the Alliance Francaise de Brisbane.

Charlène Bonneaud
High School Program Coordinator

Meet Charlene, a language enthusiast and culture lover hailing from the scenic region of Normandy. Charlene has always had a natural flair for languages and a deep fascination for diverse cultures across the globe. Her passion drove her to participate in various immersion programs during high school in England and China, but it was her year-long stint in Adelaide, Australia that ignited her true calling. She earned her Bachelor's Degree there and fell in love with the country's people, lifestyle, and breathtaking landscapes.
Charlene's quest for cultural immersion continued with an intensive summer course in Taiwan, where she lived with a host family and studied at the university. These experiences fueled her desire to work in an international environment and live overseas. In 2013, Charlene made the big move to Australia permanent, settling in the lively city of Newcastle, New South Wales.
Charlene is a passionate and dedicated French language tutor, who loves nothing more than sharing her knowledge and passion with her students. For over seven years, she worked for the Alliance Française de Newcastle, where she coordinated classes and events. Her extensive experience in education and events management makes her a valuable asset to any team. Charlene's warm and engaging personality, coupled with her expertise in the French language and culture, makes learning French an enjoyable and enriching experience. For Charlene, teaching is not just a job - it's a true calling that she adores.

Yorick Betfort
AFX Representative in New South Wales

Meet Yorick, a French teacher originally from New Caledonia, who now resides in Canberra. Born in New Caledonia, Yorick has developed a deep attachment to the French language and Francophone culture. After obtaining his Master's degree in French as a Foreign Language (FLE), he decided to share his passion by teaching French in the Fiji Islands for 5 years. Since then, he has relocated to Canberra, where he continues to teach, using interactive and creative teaching methods to make learning French engaging and enjoyable for his students. Yorick embodies commitment and passion for the French language and culture, making him a valuable member of AFX.