Menu Close

International Student Mentoring Program Program Guidelines

The Goals of the MentorMatch International Student Mentoring Program

The program is designed to help students build their connections and networks in Australia while they are studying here. To help them create a home away from home in Australia and make their study experience in Australia the best it can be.

International students not only represent Victoria’s single biggest export market but also are vital to our local economy for other reasons, often providing casual and part time workers to segments of our local economy. After graduation, many will become members of the next generation of our professionals, often in areas of skill shortage, or will drive high-value engagement with Victoria when working back home

International students have not always had the best of experience when they study in Australia. They have often reported feeling isolated and alone in Australia. This problem has been accentuated over the COVID lockdown periods.

The goal of this mentoring program is to help mentees connect to the Australian way of life and to feel at home in Australia. It is about socialisation, and not about assisting mentees find employment nor is it to help them get permanent residency in Australia.

MentorMatch and Rotary

MentorMatch a social enterprise established to deliver the international student mentoring program (ISMP) by Outcome.Life a Melbourne-based company which has been providing internship and career opportunities for international students for many years.  Rotary Central Melbourne collaborated with MentorMatch in response to a challenge set by Study Melbourne, a Victorian Government agency, seeking proposals to “..strengthen social and community connections for international students studying and living in Victoria”.  The MentorMatch submission, in collaboration with Rotary, was ultimately successful in winning the challenge and tasked with bringing their winning business model to fruition, with the aid of $180,000 seed capital provided by the Victorian government.  The development of the MentorMatch software platform that underpins the ISMP was funded from this grant.  Participation in MentorMatch is free for mentees and mentors.

Rotary Central Melbourne has established a strong track record in mentoring, most notably Victorian Police Leadership Mentoring Program and Ambulance Victoria Leadership Mentoring Program. Rotary Central Melbourne is looking to grow the impact of Rotary in the mentoring space and to establish mentoring as a core competency for which Rotary is recognised in the community.  Rotary’s key role in MentorMatch is the sourcing of qualified Rotarians to mentor international student participants in a one-on-one relationship over six months. This collaboration is an exciting opportunity for Rotary to work with a likeminded private enterprise. 

Program Participants

Mentees will be current tertiary students or recent international graduates from higher education or vocational education institutions in Victoria, who volunteer to participate and successfully complete onboarding. Many mentees are likely to be studying offshore and online until border re-opening enables them to arrive in Victoria. Mentees will come from diverse backgrounds, most will have English as a second language, and be aged in their twenties.  MentorMatch manages the student intake process – Rotary is not involved.

International students need support, especially during this pandemic. As temporary visa holders, they are financially more vulnerable being ineligible for most government supports. Suddenly thrust into online delivery, their academic engagement and performance can easily suffer. The pandemic has also disrupted many plans for post-study employment. Most importantly, as young people separated from family and primary support networks, they are personally vulnerable.

Mentors will be Rotarians and friends of Rotary who volunteer through this website, are recommended by their club president, have completed the requisite online mentor learning and development program with MentorMatch and are clear on the purpose and expectations of the program.

A Little About Mentoring

There are many definitions of mentoring –

Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be” (Eric Parsloe)

 “A good mentor helps you to walk in your own shoes, even if you start out just wanting to walk in theirs.”  (Li CunXin)

“Mentoring can also be defined as a process of shared learning and growth that promotes mutual benefit, interaction and support for both parties (Bierema and Merriam)”

Mentoring has also been described as “an ear to listen, a brain to pick, and an occasional push in the right direction “. Regardless of the definition one prefers, there are some core skills that underpin good mentors.  The most basic is active listening.  When you listen well you demonstrate that your mentee’s concerns have been heard and understood.  This builds trust, the second core skill. Different cultural backgrounds make this critical to the success of the relationship. It means maintaining absolute confidentiality, following through with promises to your mentor, respecting their boundaries, being honest if you disagree, etc. Being supportive helps – we all want to be recognised for accomplishments and abilities.

The MentorMatch emphasis is on assisting international students to get the most out of their experiences living and studying in a foreign country, and perhaps for the first time in a major Western metropolis. They need support and encouragement. Finally, as a mentor be clear on and listen to your mentees about personal or career goals and the challenges they face in their current environment.

Rotarians can bring significant life experience in business, the professions, personally and in society generally – all of which can be valuable attributes in a mentor.  But it should never be forgotten that the focus is always on the mentee’s development not the mentor’s experience. 

Starting the Mentoring Conversation.

A number of mentors have asked us, how do I get the conversation going with my mentee?  While there is no one right way to start a conversation with your mentee, every student has their own unique story and one approach that has been successful, that focusses the conversation on the mentee.

Mentor QuestionShared Activity
What were the biggest challenges you faced when arriving in Australia?
(When did you first arrive in Australia to study?)
Explore their answers with them to create a higher level of rapport and to help you understand them more.
Their answers to the first question will often lead them into explaining more of their life back home. Use this and ask them to…

Tell me more about your life back home and your family.
Explore their answers with the intent to build rapport and gain a deeper understanding of them and context of their life.
Now that you have built a higher level of rapport, revert to the first question and ask one of the following questions.

1. How many of these challenges you faced when first arriving in Australia do you still find challenging?
2. What do find most challenging now after, being here for … years?
Again, explore their answers with them.
Hopefully you have now established a high level of rapport with your mentee and, as a result, set some meaningful goals for the duration of the mentoring program:

What would you like to get out of this mentoring program?

Asking this question as your initial question, before you have established any real rapport, is not likely to produce optimal results. You can also see how the initial questions guide the thinking of the mentee and lead them to this final question so, hopefully, their responses to the final question are more helpful to you (and them).
Again, explore their answers with them.
Set goals for your mentoring program with them.

Benefits from Being a Rotary Mentor

“We often hear the expression ‘giving something back’. Mentoring is an excellent way to give something back.” The Hon. John Howard OM AC

Mentoring can be a particularly rewarding activity for a mentor for the sense of giving something back and for the relationships and learning developed through the mentoring process. Learning how to work more effectively with people, particularly from different backgrounds and age groups, can have a considerable impact on the mentor’s personal and professional life. It is time-efficient and something an individual Rotarian can do without the need for the club to allocate time and resources.

It is a great way for Rotary to raise its profile. The demand for mentoring seems to be growing across all sectors, and mentoring is a natural fit for many Rotarians. Rotary Central Melbourne and District 9800 are looking to grow the impact of Rotary in the mentoring space and to establish mentoring as a core competency for which Rotary is recognised in the community. And this program will be an example of how Rotary can collaborate with business within the principles of Corporate Shared Value. A model for future collaborations?

How the Program Works

Unlike the Victoria Police and Ambulance Victoria mentoring programs, MentorMatch does not have an annual intake. Mentors can apply and be allocated to a mentee at any time during the year.  A mentoring partnership runs for six months with twelve mentoring sessions.  Whilst dependent on individual needs, these sessions tend to run for 1 hour per fortnight.  They may be held face to face or online which will be the case for some time given COVID constraints.  Beyond the scheduled sessions there are many other opportunities for mentors to enhance a mentee’s experience of the program;

  • Exploring cultural differences – the norms of their home country as opposed to the norms of Australia.
  • Tours and outings e.g. sporting events, theatre, walking around Melbourne etc.
  • Trips to regional Victoria to gain an understanding of Victoria outside of Melbourne.
  • Involvement in Rotary social events and club meetings.
  • Involvement in volunteering projects.
  • Attending dinner in an Australian home.
  • Involvement in business networking functions.

Program Governance:

MentorMatch is overseen by a joint steering committee with members from Rotary and Outcome.Life the committee has a charter to ensure the program meets the stakeholder expectations and continuously improves based on regular evaluation. It ensures the privacy of mentor and mentee information is always protected and any negative feedback is managed in a way that assist people concerned and enhances the reputation of the program.  The charter spells out the expectations of each of each party:


  • Implement the contractual arrangements under the agreement with the Victorian State Government (Study Melbourne).
  • Develop, maintain and operate the MentorMatch matching and monitoring platform.
  • To source the mentees.
  • To ensure mentees enter the program with the appropriate expectations and awareness of the goals of the program.
  • Manage the program delivery.
  • Support Rotary Central Melbourne’s promotion of the program to Rotary and Friends of Rotary.
  • To ensure the privacy of details of all registrants to the program – mentors and mentees – are protected and only used for the purposes of the program.
  • Participate actively on the steering committee.

Rotary Central Melbourne;

  • To take the lead in promoting and advocating for mentors within Rotary and the friends of Rotary.
  • To ensure those who register as mentors do so with the appropriate understandings and expectations.
  • Ensure mentors understand their responsibility to complete the online learning and development program before being accepted as a mentor.
  • To support mentors on the program as and when needed.
  • To gain and maintain Rotary district 9800 support for the program.

Program success measures

  • Number of international students engaged.
  • Sourcing sufficient suitable mentors to meet the program’s objectives
  • Reported satisfaction and value of mentees and mentors (based on the NPS evaluation).
  • The number of activities engaged in by the mentees.
  • Effectiveness of the intelligent MentorMatch platform; and
  • Study Melbourne’s level of satisfaction with the overall program impacts for international education.

Mentor Application and Selection Process:

The Application and Selection process has two stages, an internal Rotary verification process followed by an onboarding process managed by MatchMatch


The verification process ensures that the applicant is a current Rotarian with Working with Children (WWC) clearance and has their club’s endorsement. This is an important quality assurance measure required by MentorMatch as the program involves young potentially vulnerable mentees. Using the form attached, applicants enter their name, email address, mobile phone number, Rotary ID number and Working with Children Check card number. Rotary ID numbers are available on My Rotary or from the applicant’s club.  This information is passed onto the secretary at the applicant’s club who verify the information provided as current and correct. 


  1. When verified, your registration details are passed onto MentorMatch who may request additional information to facilitate optimum matching.
  2. Mentors are then required to complete an online learning and development program -and an online video introducing themselves (the platform automatically displays the video app – very straightforward).
  3. Mentors and mentees will then be matched via the MentorMatch AI platform.
  4. Mentees will be provided three names of mentors who best match the mentees requirements.
  5. The mentee will then select a preferred mentor and reach out to that mentor to organise an initial online meeting.
  6. If that meeting goes well for both the mentor and mentee, future meetings face to face or online will then proceed on a fortnightly basis. It is important that face to face meetings occur in public places and not in private homes.
  7. If the mentor and/or mentee do not want to continue with the relationship, the mentee chooses another mentor and goes through the same process until a suitable match occurs.
  8. During the program both the mentor and mentee will be asked to provide brief feedback, online, as to how the sessions are progressing.
  9. At the end of the six-month mentoring program both the mentor and mentee will be asked to provide feedback on their experiences in the program.

It should be noted that due to cultural norms there may be specific requirements to be met when matching mentors and mentees that don’t exist in other mentoring programs e.g. it may not be appropriate for a male mentor to be matched with a female mentee in some cultures etc.

Mentor Match Application Form

Thank you for your support and enjoy the journey!