Media Release

Funding Approval for Youth Mentoring

The Victorian Government has announced a further two years of funding to support community mentoring for youth at risk in East Gippsland.

Local community and employment services provider, Workways Australia, is the recipient of the funding, which will enable the continuation of the Gippsland Engaged Mentoring program across East Gippsland.

Provided as part of the Victorian Government’s Youth Crime Prevention Grants, it will enable young people aged 10-24 years, to receive guidance and support from an adult mentor. This includes weekly one-on-one mentoring, and a range of group activities designed to increase socialisation, trust and self-esteem amongst participants.

Bryan McCormick, CEO of Workways Australia welcomed the announcement highlighting the critical need for youth support in East Gippsland. “The rate of hospitalisation for self-harm amongst young people in East Gippsland is double that of the state; we have higher rates of behavioural and emotional issues, and our youth are more at risk of disengagement from education than anywhere else in Victoria.

“As a community, we are obligated to support our young people so that their opportunities to succeed are equal to or greater than their peers across the country. By volunteering to become a youth mentor, adults in our community can make a real difference in the life of their mentee, and work towards building a brighter future for East Gippsland’s youth.

“We thank the Victorian Government for its continued support of our mentoring program, and the many volunteers and community groups that make this program so successful.” Said Bryan.

The Gippsland Engaged Mentoring (GEM) program supported 53 young people aged 10-24 this year through group activities and face to face mentoring. Engagement activities included Gloveworx, a fitness and mental health program; L2P Enhanced, assisting young people to obtain the requisite hours towards their drivers licence, and Equine Facilitated Learning, using horses to guide decision making and build confidence.  New activities are planned over the life of the new funding including Cooking for You(th) teaching life skills and healthy habits and Rites of Passage, connecting young men to male influences within their life.   Referral pathways have been established to provide additional supports to young people including engagement with organisations such as Youth Insearch.

Jan Lucas, one of the GEM program co-ordinators highlighted the range of benefits that mentoring can bring to both a young person and the community. “We’ve had some really remarkable success stories stem from this program including a young woman who is now engaged in tertiary studies after a long period of disengagement from school. She is excited and positive about her future here in East Gippsland.

“Community led youth mentoring has proven to decrease the risk of crime amongst participants, increase engagement in education and the community, and of course have a positive impact on the individual’s confidence and self-esteem.” added Jan.

Volunteer mentor, Mandy Steel meets weekly with her mentee April where they catch up for a chat or lunch in a local café. “After three years as a mentor to April, we both feel pretty comfortable talking about anything. Seeing her attendance at school improve has been really rewarding and I love the smile I receive everytime we meet.

“The training provided by GEM prior to matching was open and honest about what was expected from us. It is not about a quick fix, but building a relationship based on trust, honesty and support.” Said Mandy.

The Gippsland Engaged Mentoring program is seeking new mentors in Bairnsdale, Swifts Creek, Orbost and Lakes Entrance who can commit one hour per week to the program. The next mentor training and induction session will be held 10th and 11th July at Workways.