Media Release by The Hon John Cobb MP

Rural Co-Pilots guided into their future

Australian Government funding, of $120,000 in the 2006-2007 financial year, will strengthen the Rural Co-Pilots mentoring program across Northern Tasmania.

The Minister for Community Services, John Cobb, today was accompanied by the Member for Bass, Michael Ferguson when he visited the community based mentoring program, which is designed to encourage young people in the rural areas of Northern Tasmania to develop skills and confidence and find new pathways to learning and work.

‘The Rural Co-Pilots program, through the Northern Tasmania Regional Development Board Ltd, is funded to $390,000 in a Mentor Marketplace agreement between June 2005 and June 2009,’ Mr Cobb said.

‘Business, schools and communities are encouraged to develop mentoring relationships with young people, mainly aged 15-17, in rural areas to help build the self-confidence necessary for them to leave home and their smaller communities to continue their education.

‘Often these students have lower retention rates and higher attrition rates during their first six months of senior secondary schooling, and these relationships can assist them in finding the strength and support they need.

‘The mentor and the young person choose an activity, which they are both interested in and has a community focus.

‘They work together for eight weeks and present their work to others at the end of the program.

‘Young people and mentors who finish the Rural Co-Pilots Project may gain accredited certificates in community based learning and the adult mentors will also receive approximately twenty hours of nationally accredited training in voluntary community work.

‘This program is another example of people in the business world supporting the next generation of business people to get through their education and develop a role for themselves in local communities,’ Mr Cobb said.