Unlocking Potential: Barkuma’s Mentoring Program

31st October, 2023

At Barkuma, our mission is to empower individuals living with disabilities to achieve their goals and aspirations. We understand that every journey towards independence is unique, and that’s why we offer a range of services to support individuals at every stage of their lives.

In this blog, we dive deep into our mentoring program, which plays a crucial role in helping people with disabilities develop essential skills, build confidence and connect with their communities.

What is mentoring?

Mentoring is a personalised support service aimed at helping individuals with disabilities achieve their specific goals and enhance their independence. It involves establishing a supportive, person-centred relationship between a trained mentor and the participant, with a strong focus on goal setting and skill development.

The mentor collaborates closely with the participant, tailoring the mentoring process to their unique needs, strengths and aspirations.

A team of experienced case managers provides Barkuma’s mentoring. Assisting in coordinating or managing life stages, transitions and supports.

Rebecca Steppat, Barkuma’s Operations Manager – Transition Programs, explains the key value that underpins the mentoring program: “We are absolutely focused on doing with and not for. That’s how we always approach our mentoring and make sure that we walk beside the person rather than answering the questions and making the decisions. And that’s really important to us as an organisation.”

Who benefits from our mentoring program?

Our disability mentoring program, based in Adelaide South Australia, is designed to cater to a diverse audience, including:

  1. Children Transitioning from Primary to High School: This critical phase in a young person’s life can be challenging. Our mentoring program provides guidance and support during this transition.
  2. Secondary School Students: We assist students in secondary school in building the skills they need for a successful future.
  3. Adults: Whether it’s upskilling, learning support or overcoming social anxiety, our mentoring program is here to help individuals of all ages. We focus on helping individuals overcome social anxiety and connect with community groups, sports activities and other areas of interest.

What sets our mentoring program apart?

Our mentoring program is rooted in a developmental approach, aligning with all our other programs at Barkuma. It’s all about identifying individual skills and crafting a plan to nurture and develop those skills. Prioritising developmental growth and capacity building is the Barkuma difference. While outings and activities are part of our program, they are always purpose-driven, aimed at improving skills like money handling or using public transport.

How to initiate a mentoring relationship

Initiating a mentoring relationship with Barkuma is straightforward. Interested individuals or their support networks can contact reception and request to speak directly with the mentoring team. A member of our team will meet with an individual to ascertain their goals and needs. If both parties are satisfied, we will proceed with the necessary paperwork and service agreements.

NDIS funding and support

The NDIS provides funding for mentoring to individuals with disabilities who meet the eligibility criteria. This funding is determined based on their individual plan, under Core Supports or Capacity Building Supports.

Mentors with a difference

Barkuma mentors are not support workers; they are experienced disability case managers. This means they bring a wealth of knowledge and skills to the table, having worked with young people and individuals with disabilities for many years.

Rebecca explains. “Our experience of 20 plus years … we’ve learned a lot in that time around what is best practice. In every situation, we listen to the needs and are guided by the needs of the individual. We build relationships on a foundation of trust, developing a good rapport so that individuals feel safe in trying new experiences and learning new skills.”

Developing SMART goals

In our mentoring program, we emphasise the importance of SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound) goals.

These goals are tailored to each individual’s needs and may include tasks such as studying for driving licenses, cooking, managing money, connecting to local sporting groups or even addressing social anxiety through small, incremental steps.

Rebecca explains, “We work with a lot of people that have different levels of anxiety. Our skilled workers might build a small goal of going for a walk for 15 minutes and building on that, and then the next step might be to go to the local shops because that’s really important for people to be able to be independent or on their journey to being independent.

These goals are person-centred, meaning that they are developed with the client and undertaken at a pace that they feel comfortable with. We also collaborate with allied health professionals where needed to ensure holistic support for our clients.”

Accountability and progress

We maintain meticulous records and case notes to monitor progress toward set goals. Each mentoring session is an opportunity to review and refine our approach.

Barkuma’s mentoring program is more than just support; it’s a pathway to empowerment, independence and self-advocacy. By focusing on developmental goals, person-centred practice and real, measurable outcomes, we are proud to be a trusted partner on the journeys of individuals living with disabilities.

If you’re interested in finding out more about our mentoring program, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us. Together, we can unlock potential and foster a more inclusive and supportive community.

You can reach us via our online contact form, or by calling (08) 8414 7100, or emailing us at barkuma@barkuma.com.au