Information meeting tonight on new MDAS mentoring program

Wed, 30 Aug 2017 19:43:00 +0000

A new program linking young Koori people with business and community-member mentors is aiming to build the skills and resilience of participants and break down barriers in the Swan Hill community.

Mallee District Aboriginal Services is running an information session and barbecue tonight to recruit both mentor partners and potential youth participants to its new program.

MDAS Swan Hill Manager of Family Services Michelle Gadsby said the MDAS Mentoring Program aims to support young people by partnering them with individuals who can offer guidance, support and encouragement.

“We are hoping there are people in our community who are willing to share their time, expertise and knowledge to help our young people reach their potential,” Ms Gadsby said.

“The main aim is to help support these young people and build their resilience, but it’s really a win-win, because setting up these mentor arrangements will also build relationships between MDAS and the wider community, and foster a healthy cultural exchange as well,” she said.

Ms Gadsby said all applications would be assessed to match mentors and mentees with complementary backgrounds, aspirations, skills, interests and personal attributes. 

“Having the guidance of a mentor, or several mentors, is so important to every young person who is finding their way in life, but the reality is that sort of support is not something that’s readily-available to every young person,” she said.

“It’s hard when you can see the potential and the qualities of a young person but you also see they are struggling because they don’t have that someone to provide a bit of input, support and advice when they need it.”

Ms Gadsby said MDAS would provide ongoing support to program participants.

“Everything we do underlines the importance of cultural connections in building the resilience of our young people, so that will be an important focus on the program,” she said.

“Our Elders will be part of our support base to participants and we will organize events like camps and gatherings that can hopefully involve both mentors and mentees and build that sense of cultural connection.

“Sometimes all we need to do is create the opportunity and the relationship that develops does the rest, but we will continue to offer that extra ongoing support to both mentors and mentees to work through any challenges that come up.

“It would be fantastic if we could find a good number of people prepared to put their hand up. It’s a great opportunity to make a huge difference for one particular young person, but also to make new connections and build change across our community.”