About Us


The Hunter Youth Mentor Collaborative (HYMC) was officially launched on 25th October 2005, but its origins go back to 2002, when NBN Television launched its We Care – Kids Project, part of its long-term commitment to the community to raise awareness about youth related issues. In that year NBN Television held six telethons across northern NSW, including one in the Hunter. In 2003, when researching youth disadvantage and recording a series of on-air commercials to promote the We Care - Kids Project, the benefits of mentoring programs became increasingly apparent. NBN went on to hold initial discussions with NSW Police Service and PCYC regarding available mentoring services. Hunter Health and the Hunter Business Chamber became involved to explore the development of a mentor program. A newly formed mentor program - the Hunter Star Foundation – joined the discussion, and a Mentor Program Advisory Group (MPAC) was formed for the Hunter Star Foundation.

A number of mentoring groups operating across the community saw the value of this type of support, and discussions began about the possible broadening of the role of MPAC. In 2005, in conjunction with Hunter Star Foundation, a Hunter Youth Mentor Collaborative steering committee was formed, and a draft constitution developed. Later that year the HYMC was officially launched by Professor Trevor Waring and Brian Doyle was appointed first HYMC chairperson, with Melinda Smith as Vice Chairperson, Jill Wyborn as Secretary and Halina Paczynski as Treasurer.  2006 saw the first of the HYMC networking monthly meetings, and a Mentor Information Expo was mounted covering issues such as training, mentor involvement and responsibilities. Official community partnerships were formed with Sensis/Yellow, Newcastle Business Club and National Youth Mentoring Network.

The following year the HYMC established the HYMC Education Scholarships Program to provide financial assistance to young people at risk of dropping out of school, and the first Regional Mentoring Forum in conjunction with the Australian Youth Mentoring Network was held. In February 2008 HYMC obtained additional funding from CDSE (now renamed ClubGRANTS) to further expand the scholarship program and in early 2009 seven HYMC Education Scholarships were awarded to young people from the Hunter to help them to continue their education. At this time it was decided to restructure the networking meetings to accommodate the updated constitution, and from then on they were held bi-monthly. The Annual HYMC Forum was held in conjunction with the national Australian Youth Mentoring Network (AYMN): the topic was Caring for Youth and Strategies for Protecting the Image of Mentoring. In this year, too, Professor Trevor Waring AM, Chancellor of the University of Newcastle and Conjoint Professor of Psychology, accepted HYMC’s invitation to become Patron of the organisation, and at August’s AGM the retiring chair, Brian Doyle, was made HYMC's first life member in recognition of his service to HYMC.

In 2010 the Forum focused on the topic of Adolescent Mental Health. Speakers included Professor Trevor Waring and A/Professor Mick Hunter from the University of Newcastle. This year also saw more scholarships awarded, funded by generous donations from CDSE funds and from Sensis. In October during National Youth Mentoring Week a “Mentors’ Big Day Out” was held to celebrate the valuable work carried out by volunteers in the Hunter. Bi-monthly networking meetings continued to be held.

In 2011 the HYMC decided to adopt the theme of Mentoring in a Multicultural Society and Professor John Maynard of the University of Newcastle and Tonkoh Kamara spoke at the well-attended Forum. Attendances at the networking meetings continued to rise. Seven students were awarded scholarships and with the assistance of an anonymous donor the HYMC initiated a pilot program (the HYMC Encouragement Awards) for primary school students whose families are experiencing financial difficulties. At the 2011 AGM the HYMC reluctantly accepted Melinda Smith’s resignation from the Executive Committee, and in recognition of her work over the past nine years she was made a Life Member.

The work of the HYMC is made possible through the support of our Patron Professor Trevor Waring, our generous sponsors, our executive committee and our volunteers.

For an update of HYMC activities during 2013-14, please download the HYMC Annual Report 2013-14.