Disadvantaged youth

3 mins  27.09.2018
We believe that education can change people's lives. That's why MinterEllison has consistently invested in student-focussed education projects for over 15 years.

In 2003, we established partnerships with State-based high schools in disadvantaged suburbs of Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney to explore ways in which we could improve pathways for students who did not have the benefit of private education. We have also developed a long-term relationship with the Fresh Fish Traders' School in Hong Kong.

At James Meehan High School in south-west Sydney, we continue to deliver the highly successful LEAPS mentoring program for Year 9 students again in 2018. The program has now been running for 13 consecutive years and continues to deliver impact.

ABCN Partnership

In 2005, we became a founding member of the Australian Business and Community Network to scale our education partnerships in collaboration with other Australian businesses. All 30+ members of ABCN are committed to improving outcomes for students in Australia's public education system.

In 2018, we continued to deliver some extraordinary mentoring programs across Australia including:


A program for Year 10 students with a strong vocational focus. This program encourages students to explore their future career goals and maximise their educational opportunities.


An award-winning program, developed in partnership with ABCN and first delivered as a pilot project with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia, FOCUS mentors future female leaders on essential leadership skills they need to engage in a successful, meaningful career. The program selects young women from years 10, 11 and 12 in high-needs school who demonstrate leadership potential.

Pictured below is MinterEllison's FOCUS facilitator, Elissa Young (Lawyer, Melbourne) engaging with students in a FOCUS session.

The students attend city-based mentoring sessions, which cover topics such as goal setting, time management and models of leadership.
The program fosters a sense of self-belief in the students and encourages them to aim high and have confidence in their leadership abilities.


GOALS is the flagship ABCN mentoring program, which engages with students in Year 9 to assist with goal setting and personal development. The program's overriding purpose is to maximise student engagement and encourage students to complete Year 12. GOALS is a multi-session program delivered in a group setting where each student is matched with a mentor. The real magic happens in the group environment where mentors share their life journeys and students see the benefits of setting goals and aiming high.


InterACT assists students who have recently immigrated to Australia in developing cultural and vocational literacy, which are essential in helping them adapt to and participate in Australian life. The program seeks to encourage and develop skills such as communication and relationship building - together with critical socialisation aspects - so students learn to sustain adult conversations in English with positive role models outside their immediate community.

Interview to Impress (i2i)

i2i aims to help students improve their interview skills with mentors from the firm. The course aims to provide constructive feedback and advice from mentors on the students' interview experiences as well as assist them in developing strong interview techniques such as formal introductions and positive body language.


Educational research provides a clear message: the early years matter. For students who come from a non-English speaking background or who don't receive support with reading at home, the SPARK group reading program is a highly effective way in which to engage with and encourage reading and ultimately help strengthen literacy levels.

We have participated in ABCN's SPARK literacy program in Melbourne and Sydney for more than 10 years. It continues to be one of our most popular and rewarding programs. Feedback from Sunshine North Primary school in Melbourne summarises the benefits of the program:

“The students feel special and appreciate the attention their mentors give them. It’s a wonderful incentive to encourage students to read.”

RISE is a program we helped develop where mentors are partnered with students to offer one-on-one reading and literacy mentoring support. RISE stands for 'read, inspire, strive, exceed' and aims to assist students in developing their literacy skills, particularly reading fluency and comprehension. 

View the following Department of Education video to learn more about the power of business/education partnerships.

Community partnerships at Glenala State High School

This article featured in our 2018 Annual Report



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