Applications Open for Women’s Mentoring Program

Local community organisations have again partnered to offer the hugely successful mentoring program Taking it Step By Step, again in 2020, and applicants are being sought.

This program, in which women who would like to achieve any personal or professional goal are matched with a skilled mentor, is unique in the world and was the subject of a Deakin University master’s thesis. The aims of the program include validating and supporting life changes for mentees, as well as increasing the confidence and community networks of participants – thus addressing some of the barriers to women’s full participation in the community. Goals can be big or small and about anything – eg personal growth, health, money or relationships. Mentors receive training and support and can help with goal-setting, accountability, and strategies to work through the challenges that can crop up.

Some reflections by mentees from the pilot program:

“Knowing that I’ve got someone who is interested in what’s happening with me felt very supportive…kind of gave me a sense of not being in the cold…feeling alone.”

“The experience has been very positive. It’s helped me focus. When I get back from work and I’ve got some activities to be done by a certain date – a lot of it is around my own personal time management.”

I needed someone who could make sense of the inundating stream of ideas going around in my mind, desperate to come to fruition. [My mentor] worked with me to drill down on goals, then plan and meet those targets. Exactly what I needed.”.

Vanessa Lewis, one of the mentors in 2019 said “I learned so much as a mentor – it honed my listening and interpersonal skills, which helps me professionally, and watching my mentee recognise her own development was pure joy.” Vanessa went on to say “The screening and matching of the two of us was perfect – we hit it off straight away and both had the same sense of commitment to the process. We set our meeting format to suit both of us and I found each session left me feeling positive and energised. I might have been the mentor, but for me it was win-win. I’m happy to say that we’ve become friends.”


Program Outline:

Mentors and mentees apply and are interviewed so that their skills, motivations and availability can be suitably matched. Mentors are encouraged to recognise mentee’s skills and experience and work collaboratively with them to progress their action plans. An orientation session is held for all participants, including understanding the program and learning goal-setting strategies. Three whole-group sessions are held during the program for further training and motivation. Some pairs meet fortnightly, others monthly; some face to face and some by telephone or face-time.

There are limited places in the Taking it Step By Step program in 2020 for both mentors and mentees.  If you are interested in either role, contact Irene on 123 456 or Josette on 456 789 for further information or an application form. Meetings (whole group) will be held at either Chirnside Park or Lilydale and are held in the evening. There is no cost to participate in this program.

Taking it Step By Step is run by Eastern Health, Voices of Women and Cire Services, with the support of Yarra Ranges Council.

Connecting People To Natural Spaces: The Story of Skids

Shrouded in the mists of a Peruvian jungle, our very own Kylie “Skids” Skidmore took time from her travels to share her journey with Cire Community School. With her strong passion for connecting people to natural spaces, Skids believes that our kinship with the environment is an integral part of being a whole, balanced human being. Seeing the bush as a place of healing, restoration and reflection, she aims to create spaces where people who’ve felt like failures can excel and experience a sense of accomplishment, building communities based on trust and a lack of mainstream cultural or societal norms.

Skids became the first Australian to graduate from the University of New Hampshire‘s dual Master of Science/Master of Social Work in Adventure Therapy, a unique course only they offer. With three to six people selected to complete the qualification each year, it is a casual environment but also one of deeply significant and special connection. Their graduation ceremony looks nothing like the American stereotype of gowns and formality, with graduates dressed in jeans and awarded t-shirts before sharing a potluck dinner with their professors, families and friends.



The Australian Association for Bush Adventure Therapy Inc describes Adventure Therapy as “a diverse field of practice combining adventure and outdoor environments with the intention to achieve therapeutic outcomes for those involved”. Skids describes it as “getting alongside people, and spending time living life together; cooking around a fire, paddling down a river or watching a sunset together. It’s beautiful, it’s fun, and there aren’t the same rules or expectations that exist elsewhere”. She also sees it as an important tool for teaching immediate, natural consequences. “If you don’t set your tent up correctly, you get wet. If you eat all your snacks day one, they’re gone. It’s much easier to see that our choices have power and determine outcomes, which can be incredibly empowering”.

Skids has a background in P.E/Outdoor Ed teaching and student wellbeing. Before departing for America, she was working with pre-dominantly indigenous youth in NSW. “The schools I worked in were really trying to catering for these young people, but the end result was still often a hostile environment, which didn’t truly acknowledge the layers of trauma these adolescents, their families and communities had and were continuing to endure at the most profound level”, Skid writes. “I also felt like the school system, as it was, was not a healing or ‘rebuilding’ place. At the time I wanted to create an alternative outdoor space, connecting people to natural spaces, where these students might flourish and reconnect to culture and country”.

Returning home to undertake her internship, while completing the associated classes online, Skids successfully applied to work with Cire. She saw it as an opportunity to research and reflect upon work she truly cared about: work that is real, immediate and important. Skids describes Cire as a place that will “take risks and follow research which invites an ongoing commitment to examining evidence, reflection, and innovation for the sake of helping our young people access tools and resources to live freer, fuller lives”.

This year, Skids will be working with Cire Community School across Outdoor Education and Student Wellbeing.

But first, she has Patagonia to explore…

For more information on Cire Community School, or to book a campus tour, please visit our website at or contact our team on 1300 835 235.