The Evidence Portal

Select and Screen Mentors

Flexible activity

Selecting and screening mentors based on key characteristics and expertise ensures that mentors are ‘fit for task’ and can work with the targeted mentee population. Screening mentors is also important to protect vulnerable young people from potential exploitation. Screening should occur for group and individual mentors.

How can it be implemented?

Screening is typically conducted by asking potential mentors to submit an application and attend an interview.

Mentors must be suitable to the role. Screening could be based on:

  • Age of mentors (compared to mentees)
  • Location (e.g. mentors live in the same community as mentees)
  • Commitment to and passion for the program
  • Appropriateness for their involvement with at-risk youth
  • Experience and/or qualifications

The criteria used to screen mentors should be tailored to the target mentee group. Mentors may also be chosen based on the type of program delivered. For example, a school program may ask teachers to volunteer as mentors

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

  • Screening for individual characteristics, such as respect and acceptance, and identifying role models who can demonstrate success, is important (Bainbridge et al. 2014; Fredericks et al. 2017). 
  • Screening processes for Indigenous mentors need to acknowledge that, due to ongoing effects of colonisation and dispossession, some potentially effective mentors may not fit conventional screening criteria. Indigenous people who have recovered from addictions or discontinued former criminal activities may have much to share with at-risk Indigenous youth (Ware, 2013). 
  • 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?

Programs that select and screen mentors were implemented with the following target groups:

  • young people at-risk of mental illness and delinquent behaviours
  • young people transitioning out of foster care
  • young people transitioning to high school

What programs conduct this activity?

  • The Mentoring Program for At-Risk Youth requires adults to be over the age of 18. They are screened extensively for both their commitment to the program and their appropriateness for involvement with at-risk youth.
  • In TAKE CHARGE, group mentors complete an application and interview. 
  • In the Project Arrive program, mentors are school staff (counsellors, advisors, principals, other staff) or community partners (employees of local non-profits).

What else should I consider?

Peer mentoring is generally not an effective replacement for an adult-mentee relationship (Ware, 2013). It is often assumed that peer mentoring will be at least as effective as adult-to-youth mentoring, due to the ability of peers to more readily build relationships. Where there is an expectation that peers will act as a proxy for an adult in the mentoring relationship or where peers are expected to convey adult values and norms, peer mentoring appears to be an ineffective strategy for improving the behaviour and attitudes of at-risk youth. However, peer mentoring may be useful for health promotion in Indigenous youth at-risk. It appears to be effective in managing and preventing chronic disease (Ware, 2013).

Further resources

Last updated:

25 Nov 2022

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We acknowledge Aboriginal people as the First Nations Peoples of NSW and pay our respects to Elders past, present, and future. 

Informed by lessons of the past, Department of Communities and Justice is improving how we work with Aboriginal people and communities. We listen and learn from the knowledge, strength and resilience of Stolen Generations Survivors, Aboriginal Elders and Aboriginal communities.

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