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 team of local representatives, in France and Australia helping us deliver
great programs the all way. Meet our team below.

Kristen Cargill
High School Program Coordinator

Originally from New Zealand, Kristen participated in student exchange programs to New Caledonia and France while in high school. She continued her French studies throughout the university and received a double major in Marketing and French. Kristen has recently joined us after spending 2021 living and working in the south of France with her French husband. We are thrilled to have her join our team, to share her experiences and passion for French with all our students and families.

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 travelled to France to race as a professional triathlete, 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
Program advisor for le FR and ENG

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 LepetitJournal.com/Melbourne, Victoria's first online daily French and cultural news outlet. With a background as a writer for SBS and Radio Australia/ABC, Sophie has always been keen to facilitate exchanges between the two countries and to help people learn a new language and culture

Partnerships Coordinator

Ancienne journaliste, Adèle a passé 9 ans en Australie avant de plier bagages et de retrouver sa terre d’origine : la France. Au cours de ces années passées à Melbourne, Adèle à travailler au sein de l’Alliance Française de Melbourne, mais aussi auprès de l’Ambassade de France pour le programme Campus France Australie où elle a pu expérimenter toutes les facettes du milieu éducatif en Australie (école de langue, écoles secondaires, universités). Elle a aussi bien été jury pour le concours de poésie Berthe Mouchette pendant plusieurs années, que conseillère auprès d’étudiants australiens souhaitant étudier en France ou encore organisatrice d’événements éducatifs, culturels ou linguistiques. Créer des ponts entre ses deux pays est pour elle une évidence.

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