Mentoring Blue Print
Wednesday, 1st September 2004 at 1:09 pm
Australia needs a robust government-endorsed national strategy on mentoring for young people to encourage development and establish an environment where it flourishes –including a greater role for business.
That’s the verdict of Australia’s key youth policy leaders who have collaborated on a national mentoring ‘blue print’.
The initiative, Young People and mentoring: towards a national strategy, is the result of a unique collaboration between The Smith Family, Dusseldorp Skills Forum and Big Brothers Big Sisters Australia.
It is a seven point plan, encompassing governments, businesses, schools and communities, designed to provide governments with a ‘how to’ of youth mentoring.
The Smith Family’s Strategic Research & Social Policy Manager, Dr Rob Simons says a robust national strategy is vital to support organisations and individuals working in the field and to promote “best practice” so that mentors, young people and their communities alike can reap the best possible personal and social outcomes.
Dr. Simons says Labor’s recent promise to create 10,000 mentors over the next three years is welcome, but a long-term comprehensive strategy is needed regardless of who wins the next federal election’.
The strategy will:
– Define what mentoring is and can be in Australian society
– Identify the leadership role required of the federal government
– Outline the support required to ensure programs are sustainable
– Set high standards and benchmarks for mentoring programs
– Describe ways to bring business on board
– Detail how to achieve better practice and innovation
– Call for increased and longer term federal funding
One of the major recommendations is to encourage and promote an enhanced role for business, employers and philanthropic foundations in supporting the mentoring of young people.
This would include identifying key corporate and community advocates to promote the community building role of mentoring young people.
As well, promoting mentoring and local partnerships around community building through peak business and industry bodies, regional and local business associations, and through philanthropic foundations.
As well it points to exploring ways of building a more widespread culture of employers and more experienced staff mentoring young people in large and small enterprises both before they start work and when they are employed.
The strategy suggests that some of the most effective mentoring programs are those run in conjunction with schools because they can more readily identify and focus on students’ learning and skill needs, work options and career pathways.
-Plan-It Youth programs that offer young people who are at risk of leaving school early the opportunity to plan for their futures by linking them with trained mentors from the community;
-The Smith Family’s Learning for Life program which links young people from high school, TAFE and university with a professional working in the student’s area of interest;
-and Big Brothers Big sisters programs that match mentors on a one-to-one basis with young people in need of additional adult support.
The report was written by Robyn Hartley, a former Senior Fellow with the Australian Institute of Family Studies, and resulted from consultation with over 30 programs around Australia.
The collaboration group says Australia needs to be more considered about: the value of mentoring, what characterises the best mentoring programs, how can such programs be supported and promoted; what are the constraints on the expansion of young people’s access to such quality programs.
They say their proposal makes it very clear that there is a vital role for the Federal Government in establishing and supporting such an environment. The current Federal Government and the Opposition have both staked a clear interest.
Recently the Government has accelerated the expenditure of funds under its flagship mentoring initiative, the Mentor Marketplace, and further promoted mentoring under the banner of the Stronger Families and Communities strategy.
The Opposition announced its plans for a national mentoring initiative underpinned by a proposed National Mentoring Foundation.
The group says that while the ALP’s announcement has lifted the bar, there is no reason to think that this is the last word.
If you would like an electronic copy of the initiative just send us an email with the words Young People & Mentoring in the subject line to firstname.lastname@example.org.