1996 The School Volunteer Program was formally incorporated as an association in Western Australia.
EdConnect Australia has been operating for over 20 years in Australia, connecting volunteers to young people in schools. We previously operated under two different names; The School Volunteer Program in WA and Timehelp in VIC and NSW.
Our legal entity remains The School Volunteer Program Ltd however our trading name is now EdConnect Australia.
School Volunteer Program
The School Volunteer Program (SVP) began in response to identified community needs and focused on the possibility of individuals assisting students who experienced challenges in primary and secondary school. To initially identify these needs, consultations were undertaken with a number of WA schools and community organisations for seniors. Since its inception, SVP has worked in partnership across all sectors of the community.
The program was founded in 2004 by Charities Aid Foundation Australia (CAF) and community relations adviser Lisa Kingman, in response to a dwindling supply of parents helping in classrooms, to a growing ageing population with time on their hands, a lack of resources in schools to source, manage and support volunteers and a real opportunity to connect our older generation with our younger generation in a creative, sustainable and mutual beneficial way.
We’re delighted to share that we are celebrating EdConnect Australia’s 25th anniversary in 2023, and we want to recognise all individuals and families whose lives have been touched by EdConnect Australia. To do so; we need your help!
We are seeking former volunteers, students and their parents who would like to share their experiences. Recount your story – the good, the challenging, and what you valued most about your time with EdConnect Australia, The School Volunteering Program or Timehelp.
With your permission, your stories will be published on our website and social media platforms in celebration of 25 years.
Take a stroll through our 25+ year history
The Council on the Ageing (WA) Inc (COTA) held a seniors’ public forum, inviting a teacher and four Year 12 students from Mt Lawley Senior High School in Western Australia to attend. Participants were motivated by the refreshing and encouraging exchange of views between the students and seniors. The idea to use seniors as mentors in schools for students struggling with learning was subsequently founded.
Four seniors visited Mt Lawley SHS and began helping some Year 8 students. The students related well towards their mentors and a relationship based on trust commenced. Further discussions ensued between a teacher at the school Dr Elisabeth Parry who had presented at the forum and Fred Frank, who was employed by Volunteering WA to develop programs for retired seniors. Fred took up the reigns and over a number of years worked passionately in developing the fledgling program and seeking funds. To establish what was later to become the School Volunteer Program (SVP), COTA successfully applied for funding through the Gordon Reid Foundation for Youth to enable the program to operate for two years.
Fred Frank resigned from Volunteering WA and was contracted to COTA through his Consultant Company to further develop the program, running it from his home in South Perth. Successful funding grants including those from Rotary International and the WA Department of Education enabled the Program to expand into more schools.
In August 1999 Fred Frank withdrew as the contracted Consultant Coordinator of the Program.
Christine Gray who had been working closely with Fred since 1996 became the first salaried Executive Officer of SVP. The Program office was established in Christine’s home in Dianella.
46 schools were operational in Metropolitan Perth and 33 in regional Western Australia.
The School Volunteer Program was now operating in 95 Government schools and eleven private schools with over 1026 volunteers
The School Volunteer Program was awarded The Gold Swan Award for Community Organisations. In December, The School Volunteer Program secured its first official offices at the Scarborough Community Centre in WA from whence it continued to grow across Western Australia.
The School Volunteer Program was named as State winner of the National Bank Volunteer Awards for 2003 in the category of Education, Training and Youth.
The results from a survey of teachers conducted by the Education Department on SVP endorsed the continuation of the Program in State schools. Over 83% of teachers agreed that there was an improvement in confidence and self-esteem. Volunteers assisted students with their learning and were very welcome in the schools.
Lisa Kingman, an independent community adviser, together with John Winkett of Charities Aid Foundation develop the first Timehelp program in Geelong, Victoria.
Alcoa Foundation financially supports Charities Aid Foundation to undertake research on needs within schools and international best practice in volunteering.
Timehelp was launched in Victoria with a grant from the Alcoa Foundation.
Alcoa retirees become the first Timehelp volunteers across four schools in Geelong.
The School Volunteer Program launched its first website and commenced operating in Queensland with 5 schools which later ended in 2005 as a result of a lack of funding.
The first Timehelp newsletter for volunteers and schools is produced through a grant from the Department Victorian Communities.
Alcoa funds our program in Geelong and we expand the number of volunteers and schools.
Total number of volunteers is 20 with 6 partnering schools.
Timehelp is presented as international best practice at the United Nations Engaging Communities conference in Brisbane.
The School Volunteer Program launched in Canberra with 21 schools
Timehelp is launched in two new communities – Hobsons Bay in Melbourne’s West, with support from The Myer Foundation; and Hobsons Bay Council and City of Holroyd in Sydney’s West with support from Alcoa Foundation and Holroyd City Council.
Geelong continues to gather volunteer numbers and new schools
An independent evaluation of the impact of Timehelp on schools is conducted noting significant positive results.
Timehelp now has 40 volunteers across three communities and 18 partnering schools.
The School Volunteer Program moved out of its Scarborough offices into Grenville Hall in Tuart Hill. At this time there were four full time and 8 part time staff employed by The School Volunteer Program.
The School Volunteer Program was exploring Federal funding to expand across Australia and was delivering services in 4 schools of South Australia. Federal funding was unsuccessful.
Timehelp Holroyd wins NSW Volunteer Team of the Year award.
A Strategic Advisory panel of key stakeholders and funding partners to guide growth, sustainability and future planning is undertaken.
The first Timehelp brochure, thanks to Alcoa, is published.
Timehelp is nominated for a Victoria Regional & Community Award.
Craig Stewart was appointed SVP’s Chief Executive Officer and tasked with re-building the organisation which emerged somewhat bruised and battered from the global financial crisis and subsequent loss of funds which resulted in a contraction of the organisation.
After many years at Tuart Hill, The School Volunteer Program moved to its current offices located in The Rise, Maylands WA as the administrative heart of the organisation with Grenville Hall scheduled for later demolition.
Timehelp commenced merger discussions with the School Volunteer Program to become Australia’s only national charity focused on in school volunteering.
Separate identities (Timehelp and The School Volunteer Program) were retained whilst much work was implemented in the background to bring the two charities together under one united banner with support from the RE Ross Trust. The legal status of the charity was changed from an incorporated association to a not for profit company Limited by guarantee under the legal name of The School Volunteer Program Ltd
With help from Herbert Smith Freehills we put the legal structure in place for a national charity.
The School Volunteer Program and Timehelp would become one new brand with a new identity. We vowed to never forget our heritage and the reason for our existence. We shared values, vision and mission.
Following community consultations across the country, workshops and meetings of the board and its sub committees, and with the assistance of branding agency Linkletters, a new national name and identity was chosen … EdConnect Australia.
We could not have done this without the enormous time and effort of a select number of board members, funding from the The Sidney Myer Fund, The Present Group, The Kimberley Foundation and linkletters.
In June 2015, for the first time we brought the west coast and east coast teams together to share knowledge and practice and to begin to build a national culture of excitement and commitment.
We created our first 5 year national strategic plan and our first east coast board member; Elena Mogilevski, was appointed.
As a result, 260 schools and over 6,400 young people were reached across three states of Australia through the support of over 1,300 volunteers.
Connecting Generations for School Success is first funded by three years by Alcoa Foundation supporting our program across Kwinana, Peel and the Upper South West regions of Western Australia.
Pilbara Mentors commenced supported by the Roy Hill Community Foundation, running in five schools in Port Hedland, WA.
Danie McNeil appointed as the East Coast’s Manager.
The WA Community Volunteer Organisation of the Year Award awarded to EdConnect Australia.
Gerri Clay appointed as CEO.
First grant with Victorian Government secured for three years.
Appointment of first Group Accountant, Communications Advisor and Operations Manager based at Maylands Head Office which changed the quality of finance and reporting, streamlined communications and raised reputation.
Board expanded to include NSW representation.
Regional expansion of program in WA increasing service to 26 regional school due to new grant agreement with Education Department
Appointment of inaugural Liaison Officer based in Port Hedland.
Board members came together for the first time to plan and review the strategic 2020 – 2025 plan in a one-day workshop.
Launched the 2020 – 25 Strategic Plan mapping out the long-term objectives for EdConnect Australia.
The COVID-19 pandemic enters Victoria resulting in lock-downs, school shut-downs and loss of volunteers. Also introduces new flexible working policies for employees.
Chair of Board changeover: Norma Jeffrey (2018-2020) to Elena Mogilevski (2020 – current).
Launch of EdConnect Australia’s first Ambassador Group, designed to create a closer connection with stakeholders to help recruit volunteers and improve brand recognition.
EdConnect Australia volunteers numbers at its highest at 1,519.
The COVID-19 pandemic enters WA resulting in lock-downs and loss of volunteers.
Refurbishment of Maylands WA Office in July 2022, thanks to a Lottery West Grant.
Former CEO Gerri Clay retires and Michael Pailthorpe appointed as new CEO, April 2023.