The Smith Family calls for volunteers for iTrack program before Christmas


Smith Family volunteer Liz Bindon-Bonney said being an iTrack mentor was a “wondering learning experience”. Picture: Giovanni Torre
Smith Family volunteer Liz Bindon-Bonney said being an iTrack mentor was a “wondering learning experience”. Picture: Giovanni Torre

ABOUT 1500 volunteer mentors are needed by Christmas for The Smith Family’s online mentoring program.

iTrack needs volunteers from a range of backgrounds to take part in the 2017 program to provide support for students in Years 9 to 11 from disadvantaged communities with direction on their post-school options.

The Smith Family’s national manager of volunteering Lauren Stocker is appealing to people who are looking to make a positive difference to a student’s future to sign up as a mentor.

“We have 1300 students in need of a mentor from mid-next year,” Ms Stocker said.

“If we don’t have enough volunteer mentors signed up by Christmas, then these students risk missing out on a truly valuable experience.”

Leederville resident Liz Bindon-Bonney said she was impressed with the qualifying process for the program.

“I loved the secured chatroom but as a ‘mature’ female who loves a face-to-face chat found it a wee bit intimidating at the beginning,” she said.

“My ‘buddy’ and I did discuss it and she understood. We did discuss my age and again she saw that as a positive, ‘age makes you wise doesn’t it?’.

“My natural inclination as a mother myself was to care-take and attempt to provide solutions but appreciated there were filters in place so I didn’t overstep the mark. The more we talked the more I could take a step back and just be a mentor.

“All in all a great initiative and a wonderful learning experience for me,” she told Guardian Express.

The iTrack program was developed more than 10 years ago in response to research that showed many young people from disadvantaged backgrounds face barriers to completing Year 12.

For an hour per week over two school terms, mentors chat with their student via a monitored, secure online chatroom to provide guidance, advice and encouragement on work, study and career opportunities.

Ninety-one per cent of last year’s student participants said their mentors helped them reach their career goals.

Ms Stocker added that the benefits of the program also extend to the mentors themselves.

“Volunteering though the iTrack program is a great opportunity to expand your skills and experience, and boost your wellbeing by knowing that you’re having a genuine impact on a student’s future,” she said.

Anyone interested in volunteering for the 2017 program can register now at thesmithfamily.com.au.