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TRY Australia is now Sparkways! Find out why and how it might affect you here.

Our mentoring program trains and matches volunteer mentors with young people who need and want a positive role model in their lives.

As a mentor you are allowing a young person in need, space and security to develop trust and belonging, empowering them to begin identifying and communicating their needs and feelings. By supporting these important social connections young people can begin to flourish and thrive in their lives.

Can you be the spark of change in a young person’s life?

Mentoring doesn’t just make a difference for the young person, it can also have a profound impact on your own life.

Mentors reporting an increased sense of purpose, personal growth, and empathy after completing our program.

In being a mentor and guide to someone else, you’ll also get the opportunity to learn new things, and see the world through a different pair of eyes, and further develop your own communication skills.

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A mentor is a trusted role model and guide, an adult a young person can talk to about their experiences without fear of judgement and criticism. This type of program can be life-changing for a young person and instrumental in helping them articulate and accomplish their own goals.

Research has shown that:

  • Mentoring has a significant effect on positive youth development from building resilience and self-confidence to developing important social and emotional skills. Source.
  • Young people with mentors are 55% more likely to enrol in higher education, 4^% less likely to use drugs, and 78% more likely to volunteer their time in the community. Source.
  • Young people who receive mentorship are more engaged with school, have increased academic achievement, improved health, and are less likely to develop mental health issues like anxiety and depression. Source.

Our program's results speak for themselves.

Every day we see the positive impact mentoring has on the lives of young people, with many of them going on to say they have more self-esteem, resourcefulness and confidence after our program.

But don’t just take our word for it. Read what our mentors and young people have to say about their experiences.

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Our mentors come from all walks of life and we welcome anyone willing to make a difference in their community.

While there are no formal qualifications needed to become a volunteer mentor, we do look for some specific qualities:

  • A high level of passion and commitment for working with young people.
  • Patience and a willingness to listen.
  • Understanding and supportive.
  • Friendly and respectful.
  • Willing to learn new things and grow with your mentee.

Every mentor is carefully screened to ensure they can provide a safe and respectful environment for our young people.

You don’t need any special skills or qualifications to be a mentor, just commitment, maturity and a willingness to listen.

Currently, we run a One-to-One youth mentoring program in Western Melbourne and the Mornington Peninsula, where mentors are matched with a young person based on their mutual interests and location. This program involves a commitment to spend a couple of hours with a young person, each week, for 12 months.

We’ll provide you with all the training and support you need to be a positive and engaging mentor.

The first step is to simply learn more about the commitment you’ll be making as a Sparkways Mentor and to find out if it’s the right fit for you. The easiest way to learn more is to sign up for one of our volunteer information sessions or you can always enquire online.

When you’re ready to start your mentoring journey, you’ll need to fill out an application form. All potential mentors undergo a compulsory screening process including a reference check and a Working with Children check.

We’ll set up a time for us to get to know each other better and find out how we can best support your mentoring journey.

We want to make sure that our mentors and young people have the best possible experience and outcomes from participating in our program. That means making sure our mentors are equipped with the skills and knowledge to support a young person in need. Our training includes a psychometric test and one day of training.

You’ll now meet your match coordinator so we can find out what your own interests and goals are to make sure we match you with the right young person. This stage will also include a home safety check to ensure a safe and secure environment for all our young people.

After successfully completing our comprehensive screening process and your training, we’ll work on finding the best possible match for you.

Please be aware that our screening and match processes are very comprehensive and can take up to 3 months to complete.

Once we find the right match, we’ll set up a meeting between you and your potential mentee!

You’ll now meet with your young person once a week, whether that’s going to the footy, playing some games, or just hanging out and talking.

Our program coordinators are always here to support you and our young people any way we can, and we’ll provide regular fortnightly check-ins with you by phone, as well as arranging fun activity days for all our mentors and young people!

We understand that becoming a volunteer mentor is a big commitment and may not suit everyone.

The great news is that there are still many other ways for you to help support our mentoring program!

As a not-for-profit, one of the easiest ways you can help support us and our work is to simply make a donation. Every dollar helps to help provide critical services for children and young people.