A decade of mentoring at Griffith: Reflections on the achievements and limitations of a model of central support for local peer mentoring solutions

Ms Laura Chandler1, Nathan Seng2

1Acting Program Manager, Queensland Centre for Mental Health Learning, West Moreton Hospital and Health Service; 2Senior Mentoring Coordinator, Griffith University

For the past decade, peer mentoring initiatives at Griffith University have been supported through a centralised program known as Mentoring at Griffith. Mentoring at Griffith has sought to expand and enhance mentoring through a series of strategies and activities focussed on training, development and recognition for student peer mentors combined with networking, consultation and resource provision for mentoring program coordinators. With around forty locally coordinated and funded peer mentoring programs operating in central elements, student organisations and Schools around Griffith, programs have relied on the available supports to differing extents over the years.

A recent review of the framework has highlighted the achievements and limitations of this model. A strong commitment to maintaining local ownership and coordination of mentoring programs has led to widespread use of peer mentoring to support transition and retention in the first year, but has also contributed to difficulties ensuring universal and equitable access to peer mentoring for commencing students across all campuses, including those studying online. For students, peer mentoring has been effective in supporting orientation, transition, social connection and academic success in the first year, but has not, as yet, been significantly expanded to support students during the challenging transitions experienced later in the student lifecycle.

This presentation will provide an overview of the review findings, outlining the most successful strategies and greatest challenges of this approach to the organisation of peer mentoring in a large, multi-campus university.


Biography:

Laura Chandler has worked in student support and development roles in higher education over the past 20 years, including equity and widening participation projects, personal counselling, disability support, international student support and welfare related work. Over the course of her career, Laura has developed a passion for proactive peer support approaches, including peer learning and peer mentoring. She has coordinated and established many peer support programs over the years, including transitional and intercultural peer mentoring and peer learning programs, such as PASS. Laura served as the Coordinator of Mentoring at Griffith at Griffith University for eight years, where she supported the establishment and development of peer mentoring programs across the five campuses. She has been recognised for her work supporting student learning with a USQ Citation for Outstanding Contribution to Student Learning and induction into the USQ Teaching Academy. Recently Laura took up a position as the Acting Program manager at the Queensland Centre for Mental Health Learning and continues to find working with learners of all types energising, inspiring and hopeful.

Nathan is the Senior Mentoring Coordinator at Griffith University.  Mentoring at Griffith is a core component of the Student Transition and Leadership team and supports student development, retention and success through the coordination of peer mentoring, peer learning and student leadership initiatives across the University.  Prior to this role Nathan managed The Learning Space, a community partnership between Westfield and Griffith University.  Nathan’s experience includes almost 20 years of involvement with community mental health organisations, working with ex-prisoners, implementing the National Disability Employment Services Quality Assurance Framework and project management.

ANZSSA

The Australian and New Zealand Student Services Association Inc. (ANZSSA) is a professional association for people with an interest in the role of support services in post secondary education.

For more information, please visit ANZSSA website by anzssa.com.

ISANA

ISANA International Education Association is the representative body for professionals in Australia and New Zealand who work in international student services, advocacy, teaching and policy development in international education.

For more information, please visit the ISANA website at www.isana.org.au.

Conference Managers

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