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Without our passionate and dedicated mentors who has been devoting their time and energy to be a mentor, a friend, an ally to RMCC kids, it’s safe to say we wouldn’t see as many positive results the kids show us every week. There are many clear outcomes-based advantages for why continuous mentoring greatly benefits refugee and migrant children of all ages, as we set out below.

1. Mentors provide the additional, targeted support RMCC kids need.

Starting school in a new country is particularly challenging. Time-poor teachers aren’t always able to provide every student with the level of attention and education support needed, and if a child doesn’t feel confident to ask for help, they risk falling behind. Online learning further exacerbates this.

RMCC mentors offer the kids extra attention and support with their schoolwork that their teachers and parents/guardians can’t necessarily give them, so they can keep up with school while establishing social connections outside of school.

RMCC mentors are also often the first ones to see or hear about things RMCC kids struggle with. Thanks to their and local school’s feedback, RMCC can keep evolving our programs to address these challenges as they arise, and help RMCC kids confidently and successfully overcome them

The different dynamic that the kids have with our mentors also encourages interaction and participation in learning. We see how much easier it is for our kids, especially those with a shy personality, to ask for help from someone who seems more like an older brother or sister, than a parent or teacher. 

 

 

2. Mentors have lived experience of the barriers RMCC kids face. 

Our kids, like all their peers, are all talented, creative, and hungry to learn and grow. However, they face a lot of unique challenges that – if left unaddressed – might keep them from reaching their full potential. The language barrier. The fear that their accent might be made fun of or used to discriminate against them. The educational gap they have before starting school in Australia. The added adult responsibilities they have to take up to support family members who are also navigating a new culture, working without time off during school holidays or even trying to get employment.

The majority of RMCC mentors come from refugee and migrant backgrounds, so they have lived experience of the challenges our kids are going through – They were once these kids and are looking to give back! Having been in our kids’ shoes before helps our mentors address the unique needs and barriers they face. Our mentors recognise the kids’ efforts and encourage them to keep going. They let them know it’s okay to make mistakes, to ask questions, or to have an accent.

 

3. Mentors inspire the kids and foster their sense of belonging.

It’s tough resettling in a new country where you’re the ‘minority’. Providing kids with role models that look like them or sound like them can help them feel less isolated and build their confidence .

Mentors lead by example, inspiring the kids to follow their ambitions, and explaining ways those ambitions can be achieved in Australia. What’s more empowering than seeing someone from your cultural background succeed? It’s hearing them say you can do the same, and achieve your dreams!

 

 

4. Mentors help the kids walk between cultures.

Kids from refugee or migrant backgrounds know what it feels like to be stuck between cultures, or torn between different identities. You want someone to talk about the difficulties you’re going through, the worries you’re experiencing, or feeling different… but the friends and extended family who understand you best are no longer around. You’re reluctant to discuss them with your parents either, because intergenerational differences might mean they don’t understand, and you don’t want to add to their stress.

This is where our mentors step in. They provide a judgement-free and shame-free environment where the kids feel safe talking. Having a trusty sidekick they can seek advice from is not only critical to their mental health and wellbeing, but also helps them navigate their multiple identities, and develop a strong sense of self as they grow up in Australia. Mentors help the kids embrace their differences and celebrate their own culture, and that of others.

 

5. Mentors offer RMCC kids familiarity and long-term, constant support

A key difference in our mentoring approach is that it is provided by the same people, every week. It takes time and patience for a mentor to build the trust and confidence of RMCC kids so they can support them most effectively, and mentors are there to support the kids for as long as they need it, whether it’s one year, three years, or until they leave high school. 

This is especially important because RMCC kids don’t just face one set of barriers that they experience on arrival. Their challenges evolve as their journey changes. Our mentors, who develop a trusted, unshakeable relationship with the kids, are beside to help them navigate important decisions in critical times of their lives. It also allows our kids to develop meaningful connections and really feel safe in this environment – with both their peers and their mentors. This creates a Circle of Trust in which they can thrive.

To RMCC kids, our mentors are a friend, a role model, a teacher, and a confidante. By providing RMCC kids with a trusty sidekick, we aim to help them feel welcomed and supported in Australia, and confident to chase their dreams.

We are always looking for volunteers to join our school mentor programs. Being an RMCC mentor, you will play a critical role in helping us provide the best support to our kids and continue to expand our number of programs. If you want to make a difference, please check out the position description here. Join our team of amazing mentors and make a lasting impact on the lives of kids from refugee and migrant backgrounds.

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