About the program

Where can I find Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs in Australia?

Big Brothers Big Sisters Australia currently provides mentoring programs across Vic, NSW, QLD and SA.

Furthermore, our national e-Mentoring program, OurSpace, allows Bigs and Littles to form positive relationships online, regardless of where they live, matching young people to volunteer mentors Australia wide.

Since our inception, we have supported thousands of young people across Australia to realise their potential through the provision of the highest quality mentoring programs. We are actively pursuing partners and funding to enable us to grow our programs across Australia providing critical support to vulnerable young people who need our support.

What measures do you employ to assess the impact and success of the services that you provide?

Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring programs are evidence based with measureable positive outcomes and proven processes. Innovative evaluation frameworks are developed in consultation with our Program Delivery Partners across Australia, government and corporate funding partners along with international colleagues.

Specific evaluation indicators used to ensure that young people are able to participate fully in family and community life includes:

  • Level of awareness of consequences of ‘at risk’ behaviour;
  • Level of misuse of alcohol and other substances;
  • Awareness of alternative initiatives/support services;
  • School/training attendance or employment rates;
  • Relationships with parents/family/friends;
  • Establishment of a ‘Sense of Future’.

What is Big Brothers Big Sisters?

Big Brothers Big Sisters is Australia’s leading mentoring program for disadvantaged young people supported by 100 years of international experience and expertise. Our mission is to realise the potential of young people through the provision of the highest quality mentoring programs.

At Big Brothers Big Sisters we believe that every young person in Australia should feel valued and important. Research has demonstrated that our mentoring services can empower young people to reach their potential, make positive changes in their behaviour, and build self-worth and trust in their relationships at home and school.

The programs are based on the simplicity and power of friendship.

Young people referrals

How young people are referred to Big Brothers Big Sisters?

Approximately 30% of young people are referred by their parents or grandparents. The remaining referrals come from schools, youth and family support agencies, foster care agencies, Child Protection Services and disability programs.

What young people do Big Brothers Big Sisters programs support?

Our programs match vulnerable young people, aged between 7 and 17 years (specialist programs up to 25 years), living in complex social predicaments and in need of additional support, with adult volunteer mentors.

Young people assisted by Big Brothers Big Sisters may be identified by one or more of the following characteristics:

  • Living in low income households and entrenched cycles of unemployment and poverty
  • Having parents with psychiatric illness, intellectual disability or an addiction
  • Having exposure to family violence or child abuse
  • Possessing poor socialisation skills, having difficulties making friends and have experienced bullying
  • Experiencing learning difficulties at school or displaying behavioural concerns
  • Experiencing family breakdown and/or residing in foster care or residential care placements
  • Possessing an intellectual disability

How can I make a referral?

If you would like to refer a young person aged between 7 and 17, please visit the ‘Refer’ section of our website to find how you can make a client referral enquiry.

Volunteer mentors

How are volunteer mentors selected?

A comprehensive volunteer selection procedure exists for people applying to be a mentor. After a formal application form is submitted the process may include;

  • Citing up to three referees
  • A National Criminal Record Check
  • A Working With Children Check
  • A psychological profile
  • 1-3 interviews
  • A home visit by a Mentoring Coordinator

The screening and selection process varies depending on which program is being applied for. For more information regarding the specific requirements, please contact [email protected]

There is also online and face-to-face training before the mentor is matched to a young person. Each match is continually supported and guided by Big Brothers Big Sisters. During the selection process, volunteers come to fully understand the roles and responsibilities of being a mentor.

What commitment does a volunteer mentor make?

Mentors commit to spending quality time with a young person, a minimum of one hour per week for a minimum of 12 months, undertaking a range of simple and inexpensive activities. Most outings take place during the weekend or sometimes after school. Mentors involved in school-based mentoring visit during school hours.

How can I sign-up to become a mentor?

If you meet the entry criteria (are at least 18 years of age, have an effective form of transport and agree to undertake the selection/training process) please visit the ‘Volunteer’ section of our website to find how you can register your interest for a program that suits you.

Who are the volunteer mentors?

Volunteer mentors come from all walks of life, whether married, single, with or without children. With a wide variety of interests and experiences, all our mentors have in common a desire to make a meaningful contribution to the life of a young person by sharing minimum of one hour a week with them, undertaking fun and simple activities.

Mentors need to be someone to trust, to have fun with, to talk and run to when needed. Mentors involve young people in activities that enhance the friendship and contribute to an environment where the young person can develop positive self-esteem, confidence and life skills.

Mentors must be at least 18 years of age and have a viable means of transport (public transport or car). Mentors are required to participate in a selection process and must undertake both a Police and Working with Children checks.

It is important to note, our volunteer mentors are not replacement parents, social workers or respite carers. Working closely with the Big Brothers Big Sisters mentoring staff, volunteer mentors develop a friendship with a young person, providing support and guidance as needed. Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentor Coordinators are there to provide advice and support services throughout the life of the friendship.


Why aren’t more young people matched to a volunteer mentor?

Our greatest need is to secure more financial support which would enable us to employ more Mentor Coordinators. Currently young people often wait for long periods before they are matched.

Additional funding would enable us to significantly reduce waiting lists thereby assisting many more young people.

What kind of support is provided to mentors once matched?

Once matched, Mentor Coordinators maintain regular contact and provide ongoing support with all stakeholders. Mentors also have a responsibility to keep in touch with their Mentor Coordinator, particularly when any questions or issues arise they are unsure how to handle.

Once matched, mentors are invited to attend volunteer support meetings and social get togethers. Volunteers, young people and their family are fully supported throughout the life of the match.

How are young people and volunteer mentors matched?

Big Brothers Big Sisters undertakes a careful and thorough ‘matching process’. Great care is taken in selecting volunteers, orientating them and matching them with young people. Our goal is to establish matches that are well suited to the needs of both the young person and the volunteer mentor, and are built to last.

The matching process is based on consultation where the Big Brothers Big Sisters Mentoring Coordinator discusses prospective mentoring opportunities with volunteer mentors, the young person and the young person’s parents/guardians.

Volunteers are matched according to a number of factors including location, interests, skill levels and personality.

Funding donations

What’s the difference between a one-off donation and a recurring donation?

A one off donation is where you provide your credit card details for us to receive a single donation of the amount you specify. A recurring donation is where you give us authority to receive a monthly donation commencing on a date you specify for an indefinite or defined period of your choosing.

How can I make a donation?

A donation may be made by clicking on the ‘Donate’ tab at the top of our website.

How are Big Brothers Big Sisters funded?

As a not-for-profit organisation, Big Brothers Big Sisters relies on funding from a variety of sources including: State & Federal Government grants; Philanthropic Trusts & Foundations; corporate partnerships & donations; individual donors and general fundraising activities.

In addition, Big Brothers Big Sisters relies on pro bono support from a variety of generous individuals and businesses.