Education is the key

Across Australia, many children benefit hugely from support provided by Vinnies. Our services come in many forms and include programs that assist children with developing their educational needs.

Dandenong Tutoring Program

In Victoria, the Dandenong Tutoring Program was established to offer educational support to disadvantaged young people. The program offers tutoring for students from year five to year 12 in the areas of literacy and numeracy while promoting personal and social confidence. The majority of students are from culturally and linguistically diverse families and many have complex social, cultural, educational or personal backgrounds.

During 2013-2014, this program provided over 6,480 tutoring hours; 7,800 volunteer hours including preparation, planning and organisation; and 3,240 morning snacks to feed healthy and active minds.

The impact of the Dandenong Tutoring Program cannot simply be measured in numbers. It is much more significantly measured in the personal impact of our everyday encounters and the transformative nature of the relationships formed.

Being part of people’s stories is an honour and we are privileged to be entrusted with the care and support of young people and their families who are working towards a better future.

The program regularly encounters great strength of spirit and witnesses the value of positive and supportive relationships. From a year five girl who excitedly told us that she had the courage to answer a question in front of her class, to the year 10 boy who asked for support to fill out a scholarship application for VCE, to a mum who spends two hours practising in order to be able to do a grade two reader with her child, the stories are varied and heart-warming.

Through education, Vinnies is changing people’s lives.

Student turned Tutor

Shahani’s parents migrated to Australia from Sri Lanka in 1994 and Shahani arrived soon after. Born and raised in Australia, Shahani is conscious of the opportunities afforded to her. Now in first year at university she says, “I’m the first in my generation to be going to university in Australia so my family in Sri Lanka are always interested and want to have a conversation about what it’s like.”

Driven to work hard and get good results at school, Shahani started attending the St Vincent de Paul Society’s Dandenong Tutoring Program when she was in year eight at secondary school. “My friend said ‘I’m attending this program, you should come along’ so I attended one session and I loved the people there.”

Shahani developed a good working relationship with one tutor in particular, Walter. “Even now he’s one of my biggest inspirations. He’s a really amazing person,” she says.

“He helped me out a lot when I was in year 11 and 12. It was more like communicating with a friend rather than something formal like it is with a teacher at school.”

After her first session at the program, Shahani was excited by the opportunity she had discovered. “To attend this program and discover a tutor with so much experience, my mind was blown that it was available. It was just amazing!”

Shahani had high expectations for herself and is happy with her VCE results obtained with the help of the Dandenong Tutoring Program. Shahani’s younger sister Yusra is in year seven this year and is now a participant in the program too. “Just as I found my favourite tutor, my sister did too – Ying, is a very nice lady.”

Now in her first year at university studying business accounting, Shahani has moved from program participant to program volunteer, using her skills to help others just as Walter did for her. “Being a volunteer is amazing. I have a bunch of girls who, when I arrive are, all running around but then they see me arrive and they go straight to the table, excited to get started. Seeing their progress is motivating. The students and tutors work together and see big results.”

Reflecting on the diversity of people involved in the program Shahani said, “How you are doesn’t matter. I come from a Muslim background so I wear a head scarf. When I started in the program I was the only one in a scarf so I was a little self-conscious but you can always be yourself and do what you want to do.”

How can I find out more about this program?
Our Victorian central office is always happy to help. Please call 03 9895 5800. For volunteer enquiries please call 1300 736 933 or email

You can help too...

The St Vincent de Paul Society across Australia has many programs and services that would not exist without its members and volunteers or the support of the wider community through financial and material goods donations.

The Society is always grateful for the generosity of the community who assist us through financial or material donations. To find out how you can make a difference in someone's life today visit the donate section of this website. Leaving a bequest in your Will to the Society is a greatly appreciated way in which you can support our future work. 

We also invite you to take a moment and check out the Get Involved page which highlights more information on becoming a member or becoming a volunteer as well as other ways in which you can help the Society.

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