School Volunteer Program

School Volunteer Program


The McLernon Group is proud to be a Community Partner with the School Volunteer Program.


In 1991 the W.A. Council on the Ageing held a Senior's Public Forum to which they invited a teacher from Mt. Lawley S.H.S. and four students to attend. Everyone at the forum was delighted with the refreshing and encouraging exchange of views that took place between the students and seniors. This exchange seeded the idea by a fellow teacher from Mt. Lawley S.H.S. to use seniors as mentors in schools for children with learning difficulties. Because of these learning difficulties many children had very low self-esteem, which caused them to build barriers to learning.

Four seniors agreed to visit Mt. Lawley and to start helping some of the students in year 8. Very quickly the student's built up a trust of their senior and these barriers soon came tumbling down and both seniors and students began to relate to each other.

From these small beginnings the program was then developed through the Volunteer Centre of W.A. where a gentleman was working on the Retired Seniors Volunteer Program. He introduced a further group of mentors including some fellow Rotarians to Mt. Lawley and they too helped at this school.

To establish and further expand the School Volunteer Program the Council on the Ageing applied for some funding through the Gordon Reid Foundation for Youth. This grant was successful which enabled the program to operate for the first two years. In 1994 there were 14 schools and 85 mentors involved in the Program and by the end of 1995 this number had grown to 29 schools and 176 mentors. The Education Department of W.A. was then approached and agreed to provide $30,000 per year for those following three years. The co-ordinating group was expanded in 1996 to include representatives from Rotary International, and on the 6th November, 1996 this committee was disbanded when the SVP became incorporated. A new Board of Management was formed and this Board currently controls the operations of the Program.

Mrs Ruth Reid A.M., wife of the late Governor, Gordon Reid, agreed to become a Patron of the organisation and was joined in this role in 1997 by The Rt Hon. Justice Desmond Heenan. Both remain staunch supporters of the School Volunteer Program.

The program currently has over 2000 registered mentors assisting approximately 3500 young people from school years K-12 in 217 schools state-wide. The mentors ages range from 16 to 90 with the vast majority of volunteer mentors being over 50 years of age. Our mentor target group is all inclusive, utilising the abilities of seniors and retired people, parents, older school students, people with disabilities, career/retired business mentors and corporate volunteer mentors.

The target group being mentored includes all young people who have been selected by their school as those who can benefit most from having a caring, non-threatening volunteer role model in their life.


The SVP was founded in response to identified needs which focused on people from the community assisting young people who were experiencing difficulties in upper primary and lower secondary school level. To initially identify these needs consultation was undertaken with a number of WA schools as well as with many senior community organisations. Since its inception SVP has always worked in partnership across all sectors of the community.

Many aspects of schooling and social life has changed over the last few decades and where it was once the role of parents to prepare their child for school and life, this role is now becoming more the role of teachers and people in the education system. There is an urgent need for young people in difficult circumstances to have access to guidance and assistance with basic academic, social and life skills. It is the shortfall in parent/family support that the School Volunteer Program fills and the volunteer mentors can meet and help address these needs which are desperately required by some young people.

Most schools in Western Australia and throughout Australia, are now finding that between 20 - 35% of their students are being classified as 'Students at Educational Risk' which is due to many reasons such as low literacy and numeracy levels, low self esteem, lack of home support, behavioural problems, non-English speaking, low social skills, etc. It is impossible for teachers to help these students on a one-on-one, regular basis. Again, this is where the wonderful resource of using volunteers from the community to act as mentors in the schools can fill this role and help to make our next generation of children better prepared as citizens of Australia.

With the senior and retiree population increasing across Australia there is a vast, largely under-utilised resource of experience, love, caring, expertise and community people with on-going capabilities available to contribute to society and in particular to our children of the future. On the current population statistics and trend it is anticipated that by the year 2025 there will be more seniors over the age of 65 than children under the age of 18 living in Australia.

It is the belief of the SVP that every child has the right to a good education and every member of our community has a role to play in the schools and ensuring that young people are provided with the most important service that our overburdened educational system cannot always deliver - one-on-one interaction with an adult.


The SVP is providing a valuable service to many schools in Western Australia, and this service will increase as the mentors become more confident and capable through training programs and information workshops. Adult volunteers are enjoying the challenge of helping children, and this is a natural extension of the traditional role of older and wiser members of the community. Many younger people are also helping struggling students in the program as the schools are grateful to receive one-on-one assistance from people across all generations. The youngest SVP volunteer mentor is 16 years of age and the oldest is a spritely 92.

The SVP is harnessing this altruistic endeavour on the part of mentors, and by training and subsequent recognition, is not only providing a professional conduit for older Australians to participate in their community but is enabling volunteers of all ages to become valuable community members. Through the wonderful efforts of these Australians the SVP is also assisting and making a difference to the lives of thousands of Australian children who may not otherwise have received such specialised one-to-one guidance and care.

The Board of Management of the SVP is committed to expanding the SVP into every school that needs the service across Australia and subject to funding is confident that continued expansion is in the best interests of mentors, children and the general community.

The School Volunteer Program Inc. is dedicated and committed to helping the students, schools and all community minded people of Western Australia. This has been evident in the number of years this program has been running on very little funding. The dedication shown by the Voluntary Board of Management, the volunteer co-ordinators of the program and most importantly, the vast number of volunteer mentors who unselfishly give up their time each week to attend a school as well as training sessions all augers well for the future of volunteering and community life in Western Australia and in the not too distant future, Australia wide.

Visit School Volunteer Program Inc for further information.

Computer Links Program

The McLernon Group is proud to be a Community Partner with the Computer Links Program.

Computer Links

Computer Links is a six-week course run by the School Volunteer Program Inc. and local schools, where high school students (under the guidance of their teacher) work with 15-20 participants (mostly senior, unemployed or low income community members), on a one-on-one basis to teach the participants how to use a computer. The course is provided free to community participants. It is a wonderful intergenerational opportunity that benefits all concerned, as seniors and students work together in an atmosphere of respect and understanding.
WA No Interest Loans Network Inc

The McLernon Group is proud to be an accredited agent for the WA No Interest Loans Network Inc.


WA NILS is a not for profit organisation created in response to the difficulties faced by low income households in obtaining affordable credit in order to purchase essential household items. “Low Income” is defined as anyone who holds a Commonwealth Health Care Card. WA NILS can help make getting a loan achievable.

No Interest Loans should not be confused with emergency financial assistance programs provided by other organisations throughout Australia.

The necessity to use credit for the purchase of essential items places low-income consumers in a vulnerable position amongst the various players in the financial marketplace. First hand experience and the findings of numerous research projects by consumer groups indicate that many financial institutions unfairly discriminate against low – income consumers, particularly in relation to credit provision.

It is a sad irony that those on the lowest incomes generally pay the highest rate of interest for credit. These rates are justified by the industry on the basis that the nature of the loan and its recipient make it high risk lending. WA NILS provide loans up to $1,000 without interest or charges to low income earners to purchase basic household items. Loans are generally repaid within eighteen months and are usually only for new goods however McLernons have been accredited to offer loans against refurbished IT equipment because of the stringent testing, backup and warranties offered by the Group for this type of equipment.

Visit WA No Interest Loans Network Inc for further information. (Credit: McLernon Group Of Companies).


McLernon's School Volunteer Program


McLernon's Group Of Companies

Peter McLernon


Social and Community Entrepreneurs