Bruce Rock DHS and TBD

True Blue Dreaming at Bruce Rock DHS

How/Why did we join TBD?

Our Shire President knew of TBD through a leadership course he had completed with James Fitzpatrick. It took about 2 years for us to be able to join due to funding issues at the TBD end but in 2011 we were given the opportunity to join the program. We had heard that Wyalkatchem was also on the program but their model is slightly different to ours as we are doing it completely through the school, so we set about organising the program ourselves.

I was keen to join as our students are very comfortable in Bruce Rock and very rarely have to put themselves out of their comfort zone until they are in high school when some move away for further education. At the time I was also teaching Vocational Education and became very aware that their exposure to a variety of career choices was limited to what they see in our small town. By joining TBD it gave the students an opportunity to learn about life and career options outside of our town while enabling the students to talk to people they didn’t know, very valuable knowledge and skills for our students.

 How did we start?

We knew Michelle Blackhurst well and at the time she was setting up some policy documents and paperwork for TBD. We worked closely with her and under consultation she adapted the paperwork to suit a school context. (Our package is all electronic if anyone wants a copy).

We approached UWA’s Spinifex group to access some mentors. This was a slow process and gained us some mentors but clearly it wasn’t going to work as easily as the St Georges group that works with Wyalkatchem. To broaden our catchment group for mentors we contacted Rural Youth, CY O’Connor Northam and some of our older local students who had moved away, as well as contacts through a Practicum student we had at the school. More recently we have also set up contacts with Notre Dame and Curtin Universities. We started with 11 mentors in 2011 and currently have 14 mentors. At the start of each year I email my contacts and they advertise through various groups on their campus.

2012 Camp: David, James, Mark, Harri, Enerson and Clayton

2012 Camp: David, James, Mark, Harri, Enerson and Clayton

How it works in our school?

  • We currently have most of our Year 9 & 10 students matched with a mentor. Our aim is to have all of our Year 8, 9 & 10 students matched up.
  • Students complete a pre-mentoring evaluation before they commence and we gain feedback from mentors, mentees and their parents at the end of each year.
  • When I am contacted by a potential mentor I send out a package with a letter explaining how it works in our school, application form (adapted from the TBD one slightly), and the brochures from the website.
  • The mentor sends back an application form and a copy of their WWCC.
  • I phone the mentor to discuss any issues and get an idea of who would be the most suited to match to them.
  • A letter goes to the Bruce Rock student’s parents to inform them of how the process works and the name of the mentor and a permission slip is returned to me.
  • When all of this has occurred the Bruce Rock student can commence emailing their mentor. I also email the mentor to let them know it has started.
  • Emailing only occurs through the school student portal. This is done as a safety net because we can also access the emails should anything go wrong, protection for the mentor and mentee. It is expected that they will make contact at least once per week. Our students are given class time to check their emails up to 3 times per week.
  • If there appears to be a break in communication the students inform me and I email their mentor to see if there is a problem. This usually results in regular contact resuming.
  • Mentees keep the same mentor for the length of time they are in high school with us and/or the mentor continues with the program.
  • We meet face to face with the mentors annually in September when the secondary students attend their annual camp in Perth. This usually is in the form of sharing a meal and doing Ten Pin Bowling. Our aim would be to meet face to face with the mentors 2-3 times per year if possible.
  • If a mentor is leaving the program they are given a TBD certificate and a letter of appreciation from the school. The students who are leaving are also issued with a TBD certificate.
2012 Camp: Brittany, Lawson, Carly, Marin, Nathan

2012 Camp: Brittany, Lawson, Carly, Marin, Nathan

How do we fund our program?

Our program takes very little to fund. Our local shire council provides us with $2000 per year and in the early stages of the program we held a raffle and money boards to kick start our funding. That is more money than we have ever required.

Comments from student feedback when asked the question ‘What is the best aspect of the program’

  • Being able to ask people about what life is going to be like when I grow up
  • Being able to meet new people
  • Having someone else to talk to about any problems or difficult situations I may have had
  • Having someone different to talk to
  • It’s another person to help you through things and to build a nice relationship with the person and get to know them better.
  • Is having a person to talk to that isn’t majorly involved in our lives or has a bias view on things.
  • To talk with an older person

Value of mentoring for teenage students

Ongoing access to a mentor at a vulnerable age during high school provides invaluable support, assisting in forming the students’ decision making skills and choices for their future. Students have identified their mentor as a resource for beating mental health issues and coping through adolescence.

We believe this model is simple and can be modeled to provide a large number of our youth with immeasurable support.

2011 Camp: Rachel, Lachy, Cheyanne

2011 Camp: Rachel, Lachy, Cheyanne

Projection for the program at Bruce Rock DHS in 10 years time?

I would predict that the running of the program won’t change a great deal over the next 10 years as it is a simple, economical format which shows great benefits for the students. I would like to see all of our secondary students have the opportunity to be matched with a mentor. This means we will require a large increase in the number of mentors we can access to incorporate our Year 8s in the short term and extending to the Year 7s as they move into high school in 2015. I would hope that we can achieve our goal of meeting face to face with the mentors at least twice a year, early in the year and then in September. I can’t see that we will require any more funding than we already have.

 Extension of the Program into our own School

In our school we have a program whereby high school students mentor our junior primary students. We had parents with concerns that high school students are big and scary and would intimidate the young students. As a District High School this breaks down fear and assists students and parents to be more confident and comfortable in the school environment. The mentoring breaks down barriers but also educates the students on the value of mentoring and communication. A flow on effect into the community occurs. An example of this is the breakdown of age barriers and increased support in the sporting clubs.

2011 Camp: Alisia, Abby, Kim, Casey

2011 Camp: Alisia, Abby, Kim, Casey

 Our needs for the successful continuation of the program

  • Assistance with securing mentors – with school being so busy no-one has the time to continually try to find mentors. This needs to be done early in the year before university students commit to other volunteer programs. Having them all from one campus, like the St Georges model, would be valuable for recruitment, communication and transport for meeting up. The process of accessing mentors needs to be done using our paperwork so they have all of the information for a school context.
  • Training for mentors – There has been very little training that our mentors have been able to access due to late notification of the dates for courses. I offer mentors the opportunity to contact me if they are unsure of how to answer a question or something comes up that they are not sure about. However formal training would be so much more effective.
  • Collaborative assistance with organising face to face meetings between mentors and mentees. We have to be mindful of the time taken from school, the amount of time available and times of the year that are suitable for the mentors and sport is a big consideration for us in the country. We have an idea of what suits us and the mentors best, but some assistance to organise it would be good.

Karen Strange

Bruce Rock

Fun and Food with the mentors on the 2012 camp

Fun and Food with the mentors on the 2012 camp

2012 Camp: Matildah, Maddi, Ashleigh, Rachelle, Lauren, Lyn

2012 Camp: Matildah, Maddi, Ashleigh, Rachelle, Lauren, Lyn








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