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Kakadu back on track in 2022

A long-running mentoring program that challenges Mallee young people to build resilience is looking for new mentors – and the 2022 Kakadu trek promises to be life- changing for both mentors and mentees.

Mallee Accommodation and Support Program (MASP) is holding an information night next week for prospective mentors to discover more about the Kakadu Youth Mentoring program 2022.

The program recruits adults from the local community to provide mentoring and support to the young people with the goal of experiencing the wonders of Kakadu National Park and Arnhem Land, NT.

With a strong focus on the linking of young people experiencing difficulties in their lives to positive adult role models, MASP’S Youth Mentoring Program has impacted positively on the lives of over 180 young people and 225 mentors since its inception in 2006.

MASP CEO Vince Wilson said the 12-month community-based program aims to build resilience in a core group of young people.

“Kids in the program have things stacked against them in the form of their childhood experiences and potentially have fewer life opportunities than their peers,” Mr Wilson said.

“But we know from the long history of this program that the mentoring and the positive role models and relationships they form is enormously powerful, and plays out through increased opportunities to engage with family, education and employment.”

Mentors must be able to commit to the program and their mentee for 12-months and have the capacity to nurture opportunities for the young people to build confidence, self-esteem and communication skills to help make positive life changing decisions.

MASP youth mentoring co-ordinator Ken Innes said after a two-year hiatus due to COVID-19, he’s looking forward to seeing the “life changing” program being revived.

“With the changes in the world over the past two years, we’ve had to adapt and change the way the program is run, but we’re confident both mentors and mentees will get as much as ever out of it,” Mr Innes said.

“The mentoring program was established and run for many years as a trek along Kokoda Trail in Papua New Guinea, and the trek will now be in Kakadu. But the principles remain the same, the focus remains the same,” he said.

“The program is centred around supporting mentees to achieve a range of positive outcomes, including increased self-esteem, self-confidence, feelings of community connectedness, goal-setting, leadership and communication skills.”

Mr Innes is encouraging any members of the public who are interested in becoming a mentor to attend the information session.

“The Mentor Information Session will be held on Wednesday February 23 rd , with training for mentors likely to begin mid-March,” he said.

“The information session is a great opportunity to discover more about what the program brings to not only the lives of the youth who participate, but also to the mentors themselves.”

Quotes from 2021 Program participants:

Mentor: “I find myself marvelling at how it seems as though we just show up and just put one foot in front of the other but so much more is going on! Every training session is like a hive of excitement, love and care.
We’re all learning and growing and meeting and sharing with people from all walks of life that we may never have had the chance to meet before”.

Mentee: “I like the program because it encourages young people to step out of their comfort zone and give new things a try. The support you get from your mentor, not just your mentor but all the mentors is really good. It’s a good feeling being surrounded by people who care about you and just want you to achieve things in your life”.

Mentor: “Above and beyond any expectations…I realised that I wasn’t even close to being the best version of me, as a group we are bringing out the best versions of each other together. To watch not only the youth but the mentors grow in confidence, self-esteem (including myself), the relationships that have been formed, the bonds that have been developed, the dedication applied and the acceptances of each other’s differences are indescribable.”

Mentee: “There is a difference between just knowing someone’s name and really knowing them! I feel extremely lucky to be a part of an experience so great, which allows me to really get to know some inspirational people and their stories!! I cannot express how grateful I am to go home after each training session knowing that I will always have an amazing support system, even after the trip away”

Day/Time: 6pm February 23, 2022
Location: Mildura West Cricket Club, 456 Eleventh Street, Mildura
Contact: Ken Innes on 0400675933 or

Pictured: The 2021 Kakadu mentors and mentees working out at the Mildura Riverfront. The 2021 program was delayed due to COVID-19, but the group, which has now been working together for 18 months, will depart for Kakadu in April – at the same time, recruiting is now underway for the 2022 program

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