Mentoring program to help youth grow

July 1, 2022 BY

Guidance: GROW Bendigo mentee Georgina with her mentor Donna Slevin, at the initiative’s launch last week. Photo: JONATHON MAGRATH

A NEW mentoring program has been launched aimed at creating pathways into employment for at-risk young people.

Known as GROW Bendigo, the program is facilitated by Be.Bendigo and supported by the City of Greater Bendigo’s youth team and will see a group of adolescents paired with a mentor from businesses in the region.

YO Bendigo youth engagement officer David Buckfield said the team initially reached out to students at development and alternative schools such as Kalianna, NETschool and Indie College.

“Some of the young people have left the house half a dozen times this year, so for them to attend a monthly mentor meeting is huge,” he said.

Mr Buckfield said mentor partnerships were tailored to the individual, meaning someone more interested in arts would be paired with a professional from a creative industry.

“The biggest and best outcome is the young person maintains that relationship and then they’ve got another confidant or trusted adult in their life they can refer to and maybe even use as a reference for a job application,” he said.

GROW project coordinator Petra McLoughlin said mentors were selected for their life and work experience and will provide advice and encouragement through six monthly catchups.

“Providing youth with access to a more mature mentor who has already navigated that transition [to the workforce], will help them separate their fears from reality and take a positive step forward,” she said.

Bendigo and Adelaide Bank has nine mentors involved in the program, including regional manager of agribusiness at Rural Bank, Donna Slevin.

“I think regardless of where you’ve come from in society, everybody needs a mentor at some stage in their life,” she said.

“This program really aligns with the Bendigo and Adelaide Bank values… and I hope to see double [the employees] in years to come so more people are getting involved and we’re helping more young people.”