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.

Partnerships Coordinator

After having worked as a journalist, Adele spent nine years living  in Australia before packing up her bags again and returning to her home country of France. During the years she spent living in Melbourne, Adele worked at the Alliance Francaise de Melbourne as well as working closely with the French embassy, spearheading the development of educational resources and programs at Campus France Australia. Adele  sat on the Berthe Mouchette poetry examination board for many years consulting and advising Australian students who were considering to study in France. Adele organised many educational, cultural and linguistic events to further support students while in this role. Much of her career has been dedicated to bridging the gaps between the two countries.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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..