The Evidence Portal

Community service

Flexible activity

Community service can encourage young people to practice skills they’ve learnt while working with their mentor or group. It can also support young people to connect with their community. 

Community service projects can promote personal growth and change, reconciliation and engagement in the local community. They can reinforce lessons learnt throughout the program. They can also support young people to become more independent and develop beneficial connections and relationships outside of the mentoring program.  

How can it be implemented?

Young people should be encouraged and supported to undertake a community service project. This may include supporting the young person to:

  • Identify a potential project
  • Connect with other people or organisations to undertake the project
  • Monitor their progress and provide advice and support as needed
  • Reflect on the lessons learnt and challenges faced while undertaking the project
  • Celebrate what the young person has accomplished 

The project may relate to the lessons they have learnt throughout the program.

It could be a short one-day project, or a longer project that exists for the life of the mentoring relationship.

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

  • ‘Yarning up, not down’ is important when setting goals (Ware, 2013). Mentors and mentees should talk together about solutions to challenges, rather than mentors coming in with outside solutions. 
  • Focus on a small number of goals. Where the mentee has a large number of goals, the challenges may be too great and they may disengage from the mentoring process (Ware, 2013). Setting a smaller number of goals with the mentee can result in more sustainable change (Ware, 2013). Smaller goals can later be built upon, as larger issues are tackled.
  • 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?

Community service providers have been conducted with young with the following key characteristics: 

  • young non-violent offenders 
  • young people at-risk of mental illness and delinquent behaviours

What programs conduct this activity?

  • The Reading for Life program involves a one-day community service project that aligns with group discussion topics and readings undertaken in group mentoring sessions. The community service project component promotes reconciliation and engagement in the local community, and reinforces lessons learned throughout the group mentoring program.
  • The Mentoring Program for At-Risk youth includes a community service project undertaken by mentors and young people.

What else should I consider?

Youth who are in crisis may need problem solving support because goal setting can begin.

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.

You can access our apology to the Stolen Generations.

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