Calling Youth Mentors: Clubhouse Needs You!

Written byChristine Tondorf
Published on28 Sep, 2023
Clubhouse Ballina participants playing drums and bass guitar in Ballina music space


Clubhouses are free after-school creative tech-learning spaces for 12 to 17 year olds in communities where it can be difficult for youth to access inventive technologies like video editing, digital audio mixers and animation-creation software. The first Clubhouse opened in Boston 30 years ago and Regional NSW and the Department of Communities and Justice support Clubhouse Ballina, Lismore and Bathurst, managed by Social Futures. These Clubhouses are looking for more mentors to support young people as they explore their creativity, develop new skills, and grow in confidence.   

Clubhouse Ballina, Lismore and Bathurst – creative tech-learning spaces – are looking for mentors to work with young people aged 12 to 17 years one or two afternoons a week.

Social Futures manages the Clubhouses, and Social Futures CEO Tony Davies, said he is keen to hear from people with expertise in areas such as music, film, robotics, coding, electronics, computer science, creative arts, animation or photography.

“If you have an interest in any of these fields, then consider sharing your skills with the Northern River’s young people,” Mr Davies said. “But really, any skills or experience you have to share will be valued.”

“Mentoring at the Clubhouse could appeal to people who have retired and have some spare time to give back. Or people who are studying youth work or teaching and who want some hands-on experience volunteering with young people to get ahead.

“Mentors tell us that volunteering at the Clubhouse is incredibly rewarding and a journey of creativity and discovery for both mentors and the young people who come to the Clubhouse.”

The world’s first Clubhouse was set up in Boston in 1993 by two MIT education researchers – now there are more than 120 clubhouses in 19 countries, including Ballina Clubhouse.

“It’s basically a free after-school program where young people have freedom, in a safe, inclusive environment, to explore technology and other crafts, and unleash their creativity, and express themselves,” Mr Davies said.

“We’re proud that we’ve created an environment where young people can get hands-on experience making and creating, and seeing their visions realised as art, or on the screen, or as music or in the garden.”

Mr Davies said Clubhouse was looking for mentors who could commit to a couple of hours a day for a day or two per week during school terms.

“Our mentors play a vital role in challenging these young minds to think critically, develop new concepts, and find the technologies to bring their ideas to life,” Mr Davies said, “but it can also just be as simple as asking a young person how their day was and sharing a cup a tea.”

Social Futures is a Centrelink approved volunteer organisation meaning dedicated volunteering hours can count towards Centrelink payments.

If you would like to learn more about being a mentor, visit our website at www.socialfutures.org.au/clubhouse or call 1800 719 625.

The Clubhouse Network is a program of the Museum of Science, Boston in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab www.theclubhousenetwork.org  Clubhouse Ballina, Lismore and Bathurst  are funded by the NSW Government.