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Mentors wanted for offenders that want to reform

A juvenile offender support program is looking for mentors to help guide local youth who have become entangled in the justice system.

The program is run by Anglicare in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Juvenile Justice, and is looking for big-hearted community members with a time commitment of three to six hours a fortnight for 12 months.

Joint Support Mentoring Program Co-ordinator Daniel Edwards said mentors can play a vital role on putting young offenders onto a better path.

“A lot of kids, once they come back home, they find that they have nothing again; they reoffend, and the cycle continues. Having a mentor shows them that they can break that cycle,” he said.

“They tend to be people who are a bit lost.

“A lot of research shows that people with a mentor are less likely to reoffend, they’re more likely to engage in school and in sporting activities, and having someone with a positive attitude in their life can make a big difference.

“A lot of the time they don’t have that.”

The mentors will meet with their mentees on their own, with no direct involvement from the Department of Justice. Times are flexible and the most important thing is compassion and an open mind.

“We’re looking for someone who’s willing to listen; listening is probably the big key, and not being judgemental,” Mr Edwards said.

“We’re looking for someone that is open to all races and religions, and who is honest and caring and has empathy. They have to be non-judgemental.”

Mentors must be at least eighteen years old, and they will be matched with a mentee of the same gender.

The program is volunteer based for both mentors and mentees, so participants will be matched with a young person who has put their hand up to get involved.

Mr Edwards is based in Wagga and the program runs throughout the Murrumbidgee, but there are currently no mentors in the Tumut area – something he’s looking to change.

“We’re looking for people who think that they can have a positive influence on young people in the community,” he said.

For more information contact Daniel Edwards at 0427099287 or daniel.edwards@anglicare.com.au