Our History

Over the past seven years the TRY Mentoring program has been funded and managed by of one of Melbourne’s oldest charities TRY Australia. TRY began youth mentoring, right here in Melbourne 131 years ago. In fact, we are the oldest youth mentoring charity in Australia!

In 1883 there were many similarities to the economic and social conditions that we find ourselves in today. The city was growing rapidly. There was a huge influx of immigrants. There was great wealth alongside severe poverty. In the poorer suburbs there was high unemployment, street gangs and organised crime.

Just as there is today, there was a generation of young people ‘at risk’.

Into this environment stepped William Mark Forster. Initially from his own home in the inner city he began a mentoring movement that inspired Melbourne. Within a few short years the organisation he called the ‘TRY Society’ spread across Melbourne giving disadvantaged young people opportunities in education, self-improvement, recreation, training and employment. His philosophy was simple:

“If you TRY you will succeed.”

A century later the self-funded TRY Society was a household name with a network of youth clubs and community centres all over Melbourne.

Today TRY Australia’s services include: vocational programs for the long-term unemployed, English language, literacy & numeracy educational programs, fee for service training, employment programs for the disadvantaged sector of the community, children’s services through our 22 Kindergartens and 8 Child Care Centres, youth programs, and a diverse range of fund raising programs that support TRY’s charitable activities.

Over the past four years we have created new programs such as Mentoring in the Hood (MITH) and First Friends to meet the changing needs of young people in our community. While innovative in 2014, both programs are in reality a continuation of what WM Forster began a long time ago. One-to-one mentoring is still considered a capacity-building approach for enriching the lives of young people and we will continue to do this as TRY Mentoring.