Ms GRALEY (Narre Warren South) — I recently had the great pleasure, together with the Minister for Education, of meeting with the many outstanding mentors and their mentees from the Access Monash program at Monash University. This program aims to increase access, participation and success in higher education for students from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Earlier this year Monash University selected and trained over 300 of their students who are now mentoring secondary school students in 26 Victorian government schools. You could not ask for a more impressive group of young people, including mentor and ambassador Nikola Relijic, who spoke at the event. Nikola is currently studying a double degree in law and arts. In fact Nikola was in the very position many of the mentees now find themselves in and said that:
I was afraid, confused, lonely and was uncertain as to what tertiary education could and would exactly provide for me.
He wondered if he was even good enough to pursue tertiary education. However, he has banished those doubts and now says:
Let me be your example, an average kid from Dandenong who went to the same school as you … to show you that anything is possible.
We know that young people who have been mentored do better at school, are less likely to leave school early and have better relationships with their family, teachers and peers. That is why the Andrews Labor government has delivered on yet another election commitment to provide $1.6 million for the student mentoring program. This outstanding program aims to promote school connectedness, engagement and aspiration for disadvantaged young people to lift the bar and broaden horizons.
I would like to thank the contributions of the mentoring advisory group, which includes Ian McKenzie, Rob Casamento, Professor Sue Willis, Carmen Guerra, Steve Maillet, Anton Leschen, Georgie Ferrari, Paul McDonald, Karen Cain, Emma King, Deb Beale and Dave Wells. I cannot thank them enough for their insights, experience and passion.