MercyCare / News / MercyCare pilot program inspires the next generation of youth and peer workers

MercyCare pilot program inspires the next generation of youth and peer workers

Wrapping up in August, the 11-week pilot — which has been co-designed by young people for young people aged 18 to 25 with lived experience, facing complex challenges and adverse life experiences — was facilitated by MercyCare staff and aims to provide individuals with exposure to the community service sector, with a focus on learning more about Peer Support Work.

This includes participants learning how to safely share their story in a way that may help others in a supportive environment.

MercyCare youth worker and mentor officer Sarah Hopa, who co-facilitates the program alongside program facilitator Nisha Campbell with support from senior practice consultant Stacey LeBlanc, said participants have not only built up their confidence but have also walked away with more enthusiasm to step into youth and community services work.

“We wanted to provide an environment where, if young people have had barriers to try study or employment pathways in the past, the program offers a safe space where they can learn without pressure,” Sarah explained.

“The program is ideal for young people who may be overwhelmed by the thought of going to TAFE or university or who aren’t sure how to use their lived experience in the community space and what next steps to take in their journey.”

Having previously worked with young people at MercyCare’s short stay youth accommodation, Carlow House, Sarah said it was rewarding to watch the participants grow from shy and reserved into driven individuals who have more confidence to achieve their goals, see the value in their lived experience and want to thrive.

“I have loved seeing the progression of young people from the first day of the program to now where they are more confident and enthusiastic to use the new skills and knowledge they have learned,” she said.

“A lot of young people are also still trying to figure out who they are and building their sense of self and being in a room with like-minded people is really encouraging for them and has really added to their sense of connection.”

The program also involved staff from across MercyCare working with participants as mentors.

“The mentors are there to assist, guide and give industry exposure to the young people in their fields of interest,” Sarah said.

“We’ve tried to match staff who have experiences in areas where the young people may want to work or study in eventually.”

The program is set to return for a second round starting on September 15 and has already garnered a lot of interest from young hopefuls.

For more information, contact the team on

Want to find out more about the program? Attend our upcoming information session on Wednesday, August 11. 

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