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BLC’s exciting new partnership with Mission Australia and CareSouth, COACH is a long term mentoring program that equips volunteer Mentors from within the Christian Church community to draw alongside disadvantaged families assisting them to create a brighter future for themselves. COACH aims to influence generational change within families by breaking cycles of problems such as, family breakdown, long term unemployment, early school leaving, problematic behaviours and homelessness. COACH was initially developed by New Peninsula Baptist Church in 2004 to assist church volunteers make safe and purposeful connections with families living in a local public housing estate. The program was piloted in 2005 and has twice been evaluated by Monash University.

How it works
Disadvantaged families with at least one child under 12 years volunteer to engage with the program out of an intrinsic desire to create a different future for themselves. Assessment guidelines target families at the “softer” end of the welfare system, ensuring clients and Mentors are matched appropriately and safely. We describe the relationship as being “a friendship with a purpose”. Without this support, these families risk a deterioration of their life circumstances, continuing generational poverty cycles and possible family breakdown.

The program has some carefully considered policy and procedural frameworks including, a thorough Mentor selection process, fourteen hours of Mentor training and risk management strategies to keep volunteers and families safe. The mentor training utilizes experiential learning concepts and a manual is provided to all participants to assist them as they conduct their Mentoring role.

Referral Sources
The COACH program receives referrals from local schools, local welfare agencies or people who make contact with churches seeking material aid and emotional support.

Goal focussed support
Families identify two or three life goals and with the Mentors encouragement they work to achieving these goals. This process is formalized in a written twelve months agreement. There is a structured Client and Mentor relationship review at six months. At the completion of the twelve months the outcome can be;

-That the relationship continues on under the structure of the COACH program because the goals haven’t been achieved or there are new goals to work on. A new agreement would then be drafted.

– The relationship continues as a supportive friendship outside of the program guidelines and an exit letter is provided to both the Mentor and Client confirming this.

Transforming outcomes
To 2013 the program has provided support to 290 families with 530 children nationally. As part of the program evaluation, quantitative data along with case studies that speak about the experiences and outcomes of people engaged in the program are collected. The data consistently reveals that clients experience better family cohesion, better mental health, greater control over substance use problems, better school performance and attendance for children, greater control over household management problems, as well as inroads made towards gaining employment. While most clients had no church involvement on entering the program, over 70 % are now demonstrating Christian spiritual development. Mentors also experience transformation through COACH. A recent evaluation of the Rosebud program overwhelmingly identified that Mentors were feeling a greater sense of intimacy with God, praying more often and experiencing greater compassion for the people they supported.

The COACH Community Mentoring program has significant credibility and is endorsed by, Tim Costello, Greg Hunt (Federal M.P. Minister for the environment) and Dr. Darshini Ayton, Associate Lecturer and Research Fellow at Monash University.


What are expectations if I want to be a mentor?

  • Attend a local two day training course.
  • $75 fee covers the official Mission Australia 2 day training course and materials
  • an interview with Wayne Pickford
  • 2 hours a week a week/or fortnight meeting with the family
  • fill out a month review form
  • a six month review with you and the family and review with Wayne Pickford

Find out when the next training day is berkeleylifecentre@gmail.com You may have interest to be involve but feel with your present commitments you cannot start this year!? Why not do the training in Feb and you will be ready for a future date!