The Pacific Wayfinders mentoring programme pilot ran from November 2020 – June 2021 and responded to a need for targeted continuous professional development (CPD) for people that support the health and rehabilitation sectors in the Pacific region.
The need for more CPD opportunities, including mentoring, was first highlighted by Pacific region health workers at the 2019 Pacific Rehabilitation and Mobility Conference held in Nadi, Fiji. The Pacific Wayfinders mentoring programme addresses this need by providing access to mentoring from experienced health professionals and business leaders in other Pacific Island countries (PICs), Australia and New Zealand.
Over 8 months, 15 mentees from Fiji, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and the Solomon Islands, and 13 mentors from Australia and New Zealand met once a month online. Mentees and mentors came from a range of professional backgrounds, both clinical and non-clinical. Clinical professions included nurses, physiotherapists, prosthetist orthotists and community rehabilitation workers, and non-clinical roles included managers, a project officer and a journalist.
Participants in the programme were asked to meet one-on-one with their respective mentor/mentee once per month. Optional group mentoring sessions, open to all mentees and mentors, were held three times over the duration of the programme.
Throughout the programme, Motivation Australia provided supporting resources. These resources were designed to facilitate the growth of participants, as well as strengthen the relationship between the mentee and mentor. Mentees and mentors worked together to set professional and personal goals for the duration of the programme and beyond.
The pilot was highly successful, with many mentors and mentees reporting great results. It was inspiring to read and hear the feedback from mentees and mentors involved in the pilot year.
“Having a mentor in your life is really great. This program made me make a friend and enabled me to have an open discussion and share ideas and work-related questions with my mentor, it was very satisfying to me.” – Mentee feedback
In a post-programme survey 82% of mentees reported that their skills, confidence and knowledge had improved since participating in the programme.
“This was such a great opportunity to connect with new people and learn something different/new from them. So thank you!” – Mentee feedback
One of the key aims of the overarching Pacific Wayfinders project is to develop current and future leaders of health systems in the Pacific region. Leadership, self-reflection and communication were some of the key skills mentor and mentees built on during the programme.
“The mentoring programme has made me realise my position as leader, weaknesses and strengths, and how to improve and do better in my workplace.”– Mentee feedback
Mentees and mentors alike both greatly appreciated the opportunity to meet and learn from others who work in different settings to their own.
“(It was) mutually beneficial to share professional experiences with people not connected to your daily work.” – Mentor feedback
Ranisha Chand, a physiotherapist and case manager from Frank Hilton Organization in Fiji, was kind enough to film a short testimony on her experience as a mentee in the mentoring programme.
The pilot year was not without challenges. Lack of access to stable internet, COVID-19 lockdowns, lawlessness and the fallout from tropical cyclone Yasa that struck Fiji in December 2020 all impacted participation. Other ‘standard’ challenges that prevented some participants from fully engaging in the programme included lack of time and availability. In general, those who were more engaged and committed to the programme reported better outcomes and experiences.
Despite the challenges, the programme was viewed as a very rewarding experience for those involved. We are excited to have the encouragement and support to run the Pacific Wayfinders mentoring programme again in 2021/22.
Motivation Australia would like to thank all of the participants involved in the 2020/21 Pacific Wayfinders mentoring programme pilot, whose involvement and feedback has helped to shape the programme moving forward. We hope that it was a rewarding experience for you all.
The 2020/21 Pacific Wayfinders mentoring programme was delivered as part of the Pacific Wayfinders project, supported by the Australian Government through the Australian NGO Cooperation Program (ANCP). Motivation Australia would also like to know acknowledge the Rotary Club of Torquay who supported the development and delivery of the programme.