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The Esperance Community Mentoring Project: Improving higher education retention rates in regional Western Australia

Michelle Barrett
Esperance Community Mentoring Project, Esperance
The Esperance Community Mentoring Project was a national pilot project established in 2000 as a model to support student participation in post secondary education in regional Australia. Using diverse technology delivery modes and mentoring from professional community members, the project offers a comprehensive service that provides information on courses and careers and supports students' successful completion of courses delivered by education and training providers across Australia. It has been found that such support not only improves retention rates but also directly increases post compulsory participation in the region. Initial investigations into post secondary education in the Esperance region found that participation rates were below the State's average in both higher and vocational education. This resulted in a partnership being formed by key stakeholders and providers of education, training and employment in the region. The Esperance Community Mentoring Project Management Committee brought together representatives from the Goldfields Esperance Development Commission (GEDC), The Department of Commerce and Trade (DCT), Esperance Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ECCI), Curtin University of Technology and the Esperance Community College (ECC).

The pilot project reached completion in December 2002, funded by a grant from the Department of Employment, Training and Youth Affairs, and supported also by the Department of Local Government and Regional Development, Curtin University of Technology and the Esperance Community College. Part of this funding was allocated to establish a second project in regional Western Australia, using the Esperance Community Mentoring Project as a model. Based in Carnarvon, the Gascoyne Mentoring Project will commence in 2003 and will provide a similar service to students in this remote region.

The Esperance Community Mentoring Project has proven to be a successful model for improving retention rates in rural and remote areas through the provision of student support, access to information and utilisation of professional resources found within local communities. This is important not only on an individual basis, but also for the growth and development of regional communities and their economies.

Please cite as: Barrett, M. (2003). The Esperance Community Mentoring Project: Improving higher education retention rates in regional Western Australia. In Partners in Learning. Proceedings of the 12th Annual Teaching Learning Forum, 11-12 February 2003. Perth: Edith Cowan University. http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/barrett-abs.html


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Last revision: 13 Jan 2003. This URL: http://lsn.curtin.edu.au/tlf/tlf2003/abstracts/barrett-abs.html