The Evidence Portal

Social networks and connections

Flexible activity

In this activity, young people are supported to develop and maintain positive peer relationship, develop social skills and connect with their community. 

Promoting prosocial connections with broader networks including peers and family can strengthen mentees’ prosocial supports and relationship-building skills. This can involve facilitating prosocial connections within a mentoring program (i.e. near-peer or peer-to-peer mentee connections). It may also include facilitating connections with external supports and networks, including family members and broader prosocial peer and adult community.

How can it be implemented?

Organised activities should be conducted to foster relationships, social skills and connectedness between groups and within the community. 

Supporting young people to develop social networks and connections can be achieved a number of different ways. It is typically achieved by organising group activities young people and their mentor can attend. This might include: 

  • Family-style dinners
  • Sporting events
  • Recreation outings
  • Cultural events
  • Educational experiences
  • Community service providers

Improving social interaction skills should be stressed during these activities.  

Young people can also participate in small group mentoring sessions that focus on building social connections and relationships. This topic should be embedded into the curriculum for existing group sessions. 

Additionally, group mentoring programs can support young people to develop relationships with other mentor and young people in the same group. Group mentoring allows mentees to engage with peers in a mentee capacity (sometimes called near-peer to suggest a match with an older peer) as well as multiple mentors, expanding opportunities for positive role-modelling and prosocial interactions.

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

  • 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).
  • Additional activities to build relationships with Indigenous youth could include adventure camps, fishing, hunting for bush tucker, yarning and instruction in traditional cultural knowledge and practices (Ware, 2013).

Who is the target group?

Promoting social networks and connectedness should be prioritised for youth with the following key characteristics: 

  • young people at risk of deliquency and substance abuse
  • young people at-risk of mental illness and delinquent behaviours
  • young people transitioning to high school

What programs conduct this activity?

  • In the Campus Corps program each mentor-mentee pair is nested within a ‘family’ (small group) and a ‘community’ (larger group) of fellow mentors and mentees. Mentors and young people participate in family-style dinners and other group activities to support young people to develop positive relationships with their peers and other adults. 
  • In the Mentoring Program for At-Risk Youth group activities are organised for mentors and young people. These activities are designed to improve social interaction skills and further build on the relationship between mentor and mentee. 
  • In Project Arrive, young people participate in small group sessions that cover a range of topics. These topics include building social connections and relationships. 

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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