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The BIRR Project focuses on the personal development of Muslim youth. It incorporates cultural activities with life skills to give participants the opportunity to become role models and mentors to other young people.

Mentoring is a highly useful method to employ as a means to achieving our objectives. A pilot mentoring and leadership programme has been developed to guide Muslim youth to becoming confident Australian Muslim citizens, as well as equipping them with the necessary knowledge to understand the realities of extremism and resist its approaches to life.

Muslim Mentoring is not a new concept; it has its roots in the early Islamic periods, and also in Prophet Muhammad’s wisdom and tradition. Throughout the centuries, mentoring provided guidance and counsel to younger individuals, ensuring steady but stable transition to adulthood, with the assistance of knowledge, skills, and upward mobility to ensure the youth did not falter.

The BIRR Mentoring Service utilises the following two mentoring types:

Peer Mentoring: Peer mentoring provides an opportunity for caring and reliable youth to develop relationships with other youth in need of on-going guidance, supervision, practical advice, and a trustworthy role models. Our service brings youth-at-risk together with caring and charismatic individuals to offer guidance, support, and encouragement geared towards developing the competence and character of the youth-at-risk. Mentoring is an endeavour that shapes a young person’s aspirations and helps them realise their potential. The BIRR Mentoring Service specifies activities that are curriculum-based, for example, a high school student is tutoring an elementary school student in reading and engaging in other skill-building activities. Our BIRR mentors serve as positive role models.

E-mentoring: E-mentoring connects one mentor with one youth via the Internet. The pair communicates via the Internet at least once a week over the mentoring period. The e-mentoring program provides additional support to the face-to-face meetings between the matched pair. The BIRR Mentor serves as a guide or advisor in school- or career- related areas; for example, helping the youth-at-risk complete a task or discussing with them future education and life options.

The empowering messages and narratives are delivered to the youth-at-risk based on the training the BIRR Mentors receive.

What Does a BIRR Mentor Do?

  • Offers Muslim youth support and guidance to assist through a time of crisis or clash of identities and help them overcome the alienation and disenfranchisement they might experience in society.

  • Instils self-esteem and a sense of pride for being Australian Muslims.
  • Helps young people develop more effective coping skills to manage life challenges and struggles.

  • Helps shape a young person’s aspirations, assisting them in accepting their responsibilities and realising their potential.

  • Educates Muslim youth-at-risk about the reality of extremism and the political propaganda extremists employ.

  • Communicates the goals of the program to outside groups to ensure recruitment and retaining of mentors and to increase public awareness and support for the program.

Eligibility Criteria for BIRR Mentors

  • Between 15 and 25 years of age (and preferably located in southwest Sydney)

  • Vocational training or tertiary qualified (preferable)

  • Of ethnic background (Lebanese or other)
  • Possess a good foundation in Islamic studies in order to help counter extremist ideologies and religious misunderstanding (further training will be provided).

  • Good communication skills and ability to establish rapport, including the ability to listen intimately and ask questions in order to understand how the youth in question perceives his or her surroundings.

BIRR Mentor Training

Appropriate training and on-going support is being provided to the mentors. Training includes an education about the fallacies of extremism. As respectful communication is central to the process of behavioural and belief change, resources in counselling and communication skills, including listening skills and mentoring skills, is also made available.

Mentoring Camps are also an excellent avenue for conducting group mentoring training. Mentoring camps serve as a good opportunity for nurturing character, building self-confidence, and encouraging youth to become productive and engaging citizens. Holding mentoring camps has helped us with finding suitable volunteers who provide good role models and mentors, which is critical to the success of the project.

Refer to the events section for more details about our mentoring camps.