The Evidence Portal

Reliable and consistent contact

Flexible activity

To develop a trusting and positive mentor-mentee relationship, contact must be reliable and consistent. Regular meetings establish a consistent pattern of reliable contact.

 Open pathways for communication between mentor and mentee that are reliable and consistent is vitally important to the establishment of a trusting relationship. This can involve frequent, scheduled meeting times and/or a pattern of consistent contact between mentor and mentee. 

Mentoring is unlikely to produce any change where there is infrequent or irregular contact between the mentor and mentee.

How can it be implemented?

Reliable and consistent contact may look different for different young people. The approach taken should be tailed to their needs and desires. In the initial stage of developing a relationship, contact may be more intensive. It many reduce as a relationship is built and the young person gains more independence. 

For one-on-one mentoring, contact should be at least weekly and for a minimum of 3hrs. Different activities can be undertaken in this time. For example:

  • Going for walks together
  • Participating in educational activities
  • Participating in social activities (e.g. dinner, sporting events, movies, music)
  • Having fun together

For group mentoring, contact can be 1-2 times a week. Sessions should be for 50-60 minutes.

What should I consider when working with Aboriginal people and communities?

  • For Aboriginal youth, contact may need to be more frequent and more intense. In the initial stage it could be up to 10-20hrs per week (Ware, 2013).
  • The amount of contact time in the mentoring relationship should be flexible. However, the more vulnerable the mentee the more contact time needed (Bainbridge et al. 2014).
  • Where possible, local Elders should be involved in the program as mentors or in other activities. This can enhance the cultural connections of young people. It can also improve the level of respectful relationships with local community leaders (Ware, 2013).

Who is the target group?

Establishing reliable and consistent contact between mentors and mentees is critical for effective relationship-building across all mentoring programs regardless of target recipients. The programs above targeted youth with the following key characteristics: 

  • young people at risk of deliquency and substance abuse
  • young non-violent offenders
  • young people transitioning to high school
  • young people at-risk of mental illness and delinquent behaviours
  • young people transitioning out of foster care

What programs conduct this activity?

  • The Campus Corps program involves daily unstructured activity time in the evening between 4-8pm when youth can interact with their mentors, learn new skills and have fun in a safe environment (within the Campus Corps facilities). 
  • In the Reading for Life program, sessions occur twice a week for ten weeks. Each meeting runs for 60 minutes and overall, young people spend 25 hours in formal program activities. 
  • Project Arrive similarly involves weekly group mentoring meetings for 50-minute sessions. These meetings recur over a full academic year. This consistent and relatively long-term pattern of contact helps with relationship-building and a sense of connectedness to the broader mentoring group.
  • In the Mentoring Program for At-Risk Youth, mentor-mentee pairs spend a minimum of 3 hours together each week. This is in addition to group activities that mentor-mentee dyads participate in throughout the duration of the program (6-12 months). 
  • In TAKE CHARGE, mentors meet with their mentees every week for 60-90 minutes. Additionally, mentees participate in at least 4 group mentoring workshops throughout the year.

What else should I consider?

Positive mentor-mentee relationships develop over a long time period (generally at least 12-18 months). Meaningful contact needs to be maintained for at least 12-18 months, with effectiveness and influence increasing the longer the relationship is maintained. Some evidence suggests that short-term mentoring programs (6 months or less) may disadvantage at-risk youth as they can reinforce or compound the sense of loss and disappointment frequently linked with other youth-adult relationships (Ware, 2013). This sense of loss can be particularly acutely felt where the relationship has ended poorly or suddenly.

Mentors should continue to support the young person and build their relationship after the ‘at-risk’ period. Mentors should continue to support young people through a phase where positive changes are consolidated.

Further resources

Last updated:

25 Nov 2022

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