mentoring Quarterly Spring 2015



Recently we reviewed our volunteer training and decided that we

needed to strengthen the message of the impact of mentoring,

specifically in addressing the effects of childhood trauma.

Although there are many significant and obvious outcomes, like

building social connections, enjoying a range of new recreational

experiences, and building a young person’s self-esteem and

resilience, one of the more unrealised aspects of mentoring is to

reverse the impact of poor brain development.

There is considerable early childhood research that endorses the

idea that adverse childhood experiences – such as household

dysfunction, exposure to family violence, substance abuse, mental

illness, and forms of abuse – have a negative impact on a child’s


Early childhood trauma effects brain development, educational

performance, the ability to develop good social connections and

friendships, and impacts behaviour and emotional regulation. Early

childhood trauma can have long-term health and well-being

consequences contributing to ongoing disease, disability and social


Many of you may know about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs (also in

our training module) which suggests that if a person’s most basic

needs are not met they cannot develop as a person. These basic

needs include the physiological (air, food, shelter), feeling safe, a

sense of love and belonging, and good self-esteem. If a young

person struggles to have these basic needs met they may live in

‘survival mode’, which could result in decreased brain development,

attachment problems, lack of empathy, demonstrations of

aggressive and impulsive behaviour. Thus, living in a constant state

of stress, anxiety and instability will inhibit their ability to reach

their potential.


Risk factors that may contribute to a developmental delay

in a young person include:

• Child abuse/trauma, particularly before age 3;

• Parental substance abuse, or mental illness

• Generational poverty

• Home insecurity/ transiency

• Low educational attainment of parents

• Family violence

• Involvement with Child Protection or the welfare system

Developmental delays can be exacerbated in a young person’s life

if they fall behind their peers at school, or have difficulty making

social connections, or if they have limited recreational


Here’s a little technical bit. There are parts of the brain that will

actually have ‘blunted’ activity when faced with ongoing trauma,

anxiety and stress. For example, in a child this means the

cerebellum, which is responsible for mental health, language,

thinking, and emotional regulation, will not grow and develop like

that of a young person coming from a stable and loving home


We know that every child grows at his or her own pace but achieve

developmental milestones within a similar general timeline.

We also know that the majority of brain development occurs during

a child’s early years, and also continues through adolescence and

young adult hood – full brain development and maturation occurs

by about 25.

So there is time for intervention, however the earlier a young

person receives the support he or she needs, the better off they

will be.

Many researchers agree that children and young people need

positive relationships, rich learning opportunities and safe

environments to support heathy brain development. One of the

most important protective factors in a child’s development is the

presence and availability of adults who can offer help and care;

having a secure relationship with at least one significant person if

their life.

Considering the elements of Maslow’s Hierarchy of needs, and the

impact of trauma on a young person’s brain development, we can

recognise that the brains develops in response to experiences with

family and the wider community, and the quality of those

experiences affects a child’s future learning, behaviour, and health.

Our objective is to connect young people with screened and

trained adult mentors for a 12 month minimum supported

friendship that will provide a vulnerable young person with a

positive influence.

“Shifting the balance from vulnerability to resilience may happen

as a result of one person or one opportunity…individuals who have

succeeded in spite of adverse environmental conditions… have

often done so because of the presence of support in the form of

one family member, one teacher, one school, one community

person that encouraged their success and welcomed their


(Fostering Resiliency in Kids: Protective Factors in the Family,

School and Community, 1991).

So, as mentors you play the role of that positive and

stable relationship in a vulnerable young person’s life.

Never underestimate the value of developing a sense of safety,

building a young person’s self-esteem, enabling pro-social

activities, and engaging them in new experiences.



On Sunday the 25th of October, the TRY Mentoring team held

a graduation ceremony for some of their matches at the Box Hill Gardens.

Six matches had reached the twelve month mark and developed a

self-sufficient, genuine friendship that didn’t need the guidance of their

coordinator any longer. Current TRY Mentoring matches were invited

to celebrate and play some fun games – including an egg and spoon race!

- and have some lunch. Thanks to one of our matches for baking honey

joys for everybody, and one of the graduating matches for setting up their

own flying fox! The matches loved having a go and flying between the

trees at the park. Thanks to all of those who came along to celebrate these

wonderful friendships, and we wish our graduating matches all the best

as they continue to see each other and develop a lasting relationship!

Interested in volunteering

with TRY Mentoring?

It’s really easy – if you can be a friend, you can be a mentor.

To learn some more about what you can do to get involved with TRY

Mentoring, come along to our next information session, or check out

www.dosomethingreal.org.au for more information.

Book Here

Wednesday 3rd February 2016 @ 6.00pm – 7.00pm

TRY Australia Corporate Office

Building 2, 1st Floor

88 Ricketts Road

Mount Waverley 3149






If you’re feeling stuck in a rut

with your match activities, or just

want to mix things up a bit, check

out our 9 Best Novel Catch-Up

Ideas for something different!

1. Make your own herb garden

Take a trip to Bunnings to get the materials

(of course, don’t forget to get a sausage) and build

your own personal herb garden in the backyard!

It’s a great way to help your mentee learn about

responsibility and once the herbs have grown,

you can look up some recipes to use them in!

3. Go on a bike ride through space!

You can follow the sun to the outer planets on a

5.9km bike/walking track between St Kilda and Port

Melbourne – look up The Melbourne Solar System

Self-Guided Trail for more details. Our tip – go at


2. Learn about a new topic together

If you’re not feeling up for physical activity,

then get comfy on the couch and discuss philosophy!

You could learn about physics or philosophy together

and get into some really interesting conversations

as a result – this one is best for an older young person!

There are plenty of youth-friendly resources available

online for harder topics.

4. Be a tourist for a day

The City Circle tram in the CBD is often overlooked,

but it is a fantastic no-cost way to see the city! Jump

on with your mentee and pretend to be tourists for a

day. You could talk about what you would go see first

if you were visiting Melbourne and take some cheesy

tourist snaps together.

5. Shop for bric-a-brac

The Camberwell Sunday Market runs every Sunday

morning – take ten bucks each and see who can find

the most unusual memento from one of the many

stalls! There are also street performers and musicians

to listen to, and plenty of hot jam donuts to scoff down.

7. DIY Skincare

Last year for Christmas, one of our matches made

their own body scrub out of coconut oil, sugar and

lavender oil, bottled it and gave it to their family!

Find some recipes online and make your own

(avoid any with lemon juice or salt, though!)

6. Go on a digital treasure hunt

From the Geocaching Australia website: “Geocaching

is a treasure hunt with something for everyone.

Using map coordinates and a GPS enabled device,

you can find a geocache near your home, in the city,

in the bush or in Antarctica…You can drive up to your

geocache and spot it from the car, or you can choose

to hike for miles up and down mountains in the

snow in search of that elusive container.” Go to

www.geocaching.com.au to see how to get started!

8. Be models for a day

First, bring a bunch of you and your mentees clothes

together to help each other figure out some nice outfits.

Next comes the fun part – model them, and take some

photos! You could both even hold onto them for future

reference about potential outfits.

9. Make a jar of happiness

All you need for this are some jars, paper and pens.

Spend the day with your mentee thinking about

somebody you both care about and would like to

be there for. Then, cut out some small pieces of paper

and write down happy or inspiring messages on them!

Once you have enough, put them in the jar and give it

to a friend or family member to use when they’re in

need of a pick me up!


Chris has been a volunteer mentor with TRY for over a year; in that time, he has

been matched to James*, an eleven year old boy who was in need of a positive

male role model in his life. In the lead up to their graduation from the program,

we sat down with Chris to chat about his experience as a volunteer mentor.

Why did you decide to become a volunteer mentor?

Initially, I looked into TRY because I thought it would be beneficial for me to getinto

my Masters program, experience-wise. But as I started going through the process of

screening and catching up with James, I was like, “wow, this is actually a lot of fun!”

And it just went from there?

Yeah, I never would have thought from where I was with my initial motivations

for the program, that I would be a year on and that it would have been so amazing.

What expectations did you have prior to being matched, and how have these been

met or not?

I was pretty anxious about it. More that I didn’t know how he would react to me,

that he may not like me. I thought that because I was a stranger coming into his life,

he may not feel comfortable with that. I was also worried that after a few weeks I

would get a call saying “thanks, but they don’t really like you, so we’re going to have

to end it”. It was a bit nerve-wracking, and I also wanted to give

a good impression. I just don’t worry about that anymore – every time we catch-up

it’s just like hanging out with a mate. I don’t have to think as much when we

catch-up anymore.


Do you remember when you started feeling that way, when it started feeling

more casual?

A month or two in it became more casual. I guess initially he was a lot more

reserved – but now it’s just open conversation, not necessarily about anything

that might be deep and meaningful -sometimes it can be– but it’s mostly free

conversation about whatever.

How did you find the process of applying and being screened?

Initially I would have said it was long, but it’s necessary. All of the stuff TRY covers

is very, very important – you want to be matched to somebody who is similar to

you, and who you’re going to be able to bring the best out of.

What’s been the most challenging part of being a mentor?

Probably when James was having a difficult time emotionally [after the loss

of a few family members] - because I was worried about his wellbeing.

My challenge was that I needed to be more vigilant and be more aware about

the things that he says, or might be doing differently, and I always kept an open

communication with his mum and my coordinator. That wasn’t a particular

challenge for me, but I wanted to make sure that if there was an issue I wanted it

to be well handled.

What’s been the most rewarding?

There’s been so many! For me, I get a lot of happiness out of being there for him

and creating this relationship with him, and him knowing what to expect from a

relationship with stability. It’s been amazing seeing him grow as a young man. It’s

really incredible – he’s become a really emotionally aware, understanding and

compassionate person. Recently, we were talking about Adam Goodes, whose

name came on the radio, and he made the comment that “people don’t think

about the consequences of their actions” which is a very big thing for an 11 year

old to be saying! It amazes me sometimes, his level of understanding of other


*name changed for privacy.

I’ve really enjoyed seeing him achieve in athletics and sport

at school, and recently watching him perform in his school

play was really special for me. He’s growing as a young

man, and that’s been really special to watch. I like to think,

to some extent, that I’ve played a part in that.

Did you ever think that you would have such a bond

with this young person?

No! From the start, I had absolutely no idea. In a way,

I went in with selfish motivations – thinking more about my

course – but now I think about the benefit for me, which is

seeing the benefits that he’s getting. I want to see him

succeed, be happy and enjoy his life, and that’s what makes

it so special for me. Above all, I’ve been able to develop a

friendship with him. It’s not something that will stop – it

will continue on. I would never have thought I would be

able to have such a genuine friendship with him.

What’s the best catch-up that you’ve had?

The play was really awesome for me. That was one of the

most special moments I’ve had with him – having him wave

at me from the stage when he saw me in the audience, was

just amazing. Taking him to his first footy game was really

fun too.

What would you say to someone who wants to get involved

in mentoring, but is hesitant to jump in?

Based on my experience of it, showing a young person that

you’re interested in them, that you want to know about

them and want to spend time with them – can make the

world of a difference to them. I think that’s one of the most

incredible things. Him just looking forward to having that

catch-up every week is what motivates me.




In October we ‘raised the roof’ at the Arts Centre

recognising the wonderful work our volunteers do:

not just in mentoring but across our whole organisation.

As you all know, our volunteers tutor, teach, mentor, coach and

support our mentees with everything from being there through

a personal crisis to helping them learning how to play soccer or

basketball. Volunteers also support our childcare centres to create

happy, safe spaces for early learning. They help us in the backyard

blitzes that transform playgrounds at our Preschools and Childcare

centres and with raising money at events such as Run Melbourne.

Volunteers also help us in our administration centre at Ricketts

Road, doing everything from graphic design to answering the

telephone. Whatever way they contribute, all of them teach the

rest of us the real meaning of charity.

Corporate Partner



This year Rebecca Czarnecki and

her team at Calibre Consulting

received the Corporate Partner

nomination for their great

support for TRY at Run

Melbourne. Not only did they run

the hard yards wearing our new

TRY t-shirts but they raised $3705

that will go towards extending

our MiTH programs in

Melbourne’s south-eastern


Thnk you Clibre Conultin!

Children’s Services


Rebecca has been a highly-valued

and respected volunteer member

of TRY Bellevue Hill Preschool

since 2009. Over the past 6 years

she has consistently proved

herself to be a devoted and loyal

team member generously sharing

her warm companionship and

compassion with every child she

works with. Always happy,

cheerful and smiling, no task

has ever seemed too big for Bec.

The kids love her and she always

responds with the utmost care

and respect. She consistently

shows initiative in the day-to-day

program and makes herself

available to help out at the many

extra activities throughout the


Thnk you Rebecc!


WM Forster Award for 1-2-1 mentoring


Lauren was nominated for this award for several reasons.

Her experience as a TRY mentor and her continued commitment

to the relationship with her mentee is the exact outcome TRY

Mentoring aims for: a sustainable, long term, and protective

relationship for a young person who has little positivity in their life.

Lauren was nominated for this award not only for her commitment

as a TRY mentor, but also for her support of TRY’s programs in other

ways. Lauren has regularly attended our volunteer training on

Saturdays to speak to other volunteer mentors, sharing her


The opportunity at these sessions allow mentors to talk with

someone who has a depth of experience is invaluable. Lauren has

also assisted TRY in the area of volunteer recruitment, in particular

organising an event at her local sporting club in Frankston which

directly led to us matching another valuable mentor with a boy who

had been on our waiting lists for two years.

Thnk you Luren!

Volunteer Team Award


Greg Schnabel, Manoj Ramanathan, and Martin McDaniel were

nominated for their inexhaustible positivity, their compassion

and their commitment.

These three men took on a group of boys who had little

opportunities for extracurricular activities. All of the boys come from

one of Melbourne’s most disadvantaged areas. Some have ADHD

and several have had Child Protection involvement at some stage of

their lives. Prior to joining the Dandenong MiTH group none of them

had never touched a basketball. After an awkward start with poor

attendance, at the nine month assessment at least seven of the nine

were consistently turning up. The creation of a safe, reliable space

where the boys could open up about their problems as well as their

hopes and ambitions has visibly created an immense positive

impact on the lives of these young men and their families.

Previously unreliable parents have turned into diligent transporters

of their sons. There has been a marked increase in school

attendance across the group. A number of them have become

genuinely interested in the sport and have signed up to basketball

teams at school. Every participant identified the interaction with

their mentors as what motivated them to keep coming back.

Thnk you Dndenon MiTH!


On the night we also launched ‘Raise a Roof’: our new TRY Build program in the

south east corridor. The program represents an exciting new development for

TRY. Our goal is to develop a facility that will become a hub, a safe place for

disadvantaged young people to learn, find strong mentors and create a future

for themselves through the dignity of work. It will strengthen our presence in

Metropolitan Melbourne which in turn will build our social impact and our ability

to recruit volunteers into the future.

All in all, it was a fantastic night. The venue was brilliant, the food was excellent

and when it came down to the nitty gritty of the lego competitions it was

surprising how many ultra-competitive individuals came out!


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