Branch Out Mentoring
Branch Out Mentoring has been developed by alumni to support young people as they transition out of school to study, training or work. Mentors are usually connected with the school or region and this is a real strength of the model.
Our Branch Out Mentoring team has enjoyed developing connections with rural VCAL and VCE students in Gippsland, north east, north west and central Victorian regions. The team has been busy establishing a unique mentoring program suited to schools in a post COVID19 climate. They aim to create connections, awareness of opportunities, confidence and aspirations for young rural people transitioning out of high school and into further education, training and employment pathways.
Jarrod Stevens and Ella Jacobsen attended Bairnsdale Secondary College Careers week and spoke with over 80 rural VCAL/VCE students about Branch Out Mentoring, the Rural Youth Network and the benefits these programs can make to young people as they transition from secondary study into further education or employment.
Jarrod’s reflection on this visit:
I remember the look on students’ faces when it clicked what issues RYN addresses for young rural people and what opportunities it could offer them. Excitement, positivity, energy, a bit of realisation. One of the things I really love about RYN and what I think other young people really connect to is that it works to remove the idea that a lot of these young people have that “there’s nothing going on in my town”, “this place is boring” etc, and offers the alternative that rural Victoria has opportunities and can be an exciting and challenging place for young people to live.
Stephanie Hartshorn and Youthrive Scholar Conor Pall visited Mildura Senior College, where they spoke to VCAL and VCE students at the school assembly. Steph and Conor (a former student) discussed opportunities connected to both Branch Out Mentoring and the Rural Youth Network, receiving positive feedback from both staff and students. Steph has established a strong Branch Out Mentoring program at St Mary MacKillop College in Swan Hill with 25 young people participating and has so far focused on university early entry information, tips on uni applications, and how to apply for interstate study opportunities.
After I finish a BOM session I feel this energy within me that makes me determined to help these young people. Some kids are so incredibly stressed about this period of their lives and knowing that the network and BOM is there to support them helps them relax and become excited for this new phase.
One BOM menteed said: “When I leave for uni next year I know I will have a network of people who will support me and that makes me feel relieved.”
Yea High School has introduced Branch Out and former student and BOM Mentor, Ella Jacobsen, connected with 27 Branch Out students over lunch. The program was well received and will continue to run across 8 weeks, being implemented both in person and online.
Ella and Corey Jackson have made strong connections with Beechworth Secondary College and 28 students have signed up to the Branch Out Mentoring program. We have received positive feedback from Beechworth Secondary College, who are very excited to be working with the Branch Out team this year.
Ella commented, ‘BOM makes me really excited to think about how much we can help kids moving on to post high school life. When I think back to my time in school and moving out of home there’s so much I wish I had known. BOM can give students that information. It was really affirming when one student said: ‘This is amazing we don’t get told any of this in school and it’s so important!’