Julie Babineau is the CEO of Odyssey House NSW a rehabilitation service which addresses the harms associated with alcohol and other drug use. She is also a Success Works mentor with a long history working within human services and as a mentor. Julie was interviewed in late 2022 and she shared her experience of mentoring with Success Works.

When talking to Julie it doesn’t take long to notice her commitment to working with vulnerable people and her professional but warm and bubbly approach to the role of mentoring.

Julie has been committed to volunteering and mentoring for most of her working life, with her longest mentoring relationship lasting over 17 years. With all mentoring relations, Julie advises that establishing boundaries is crucial for both the mentor and the mentee. From the very first meeting, it is important to define boundaries regarding the original purpose and the mentoring contract. These are important touchstones if the relationship becomes challenging. She also keeps detailed notes about all of her meetings with her mentees. This keeps a record but also provides a way to reflect on how much the mentee has grown.

Julie’s approach is to support and empower mentees as they work through their own challenges.  As she explains:

I don’t want to be a therapist in the role. I’m not the CEO in this relationship. There’s a fine line between mentoring and friendship. What they want is for someone to listen to them without judging. They’ve been judged before they went into jail, they’ve been judged while they were in jail, and they’ve been judged when they get out of jail again.

Letting the women find their own voice and realise that given the space, time, opportunity, and support they can think through solutions to many of the issues that need to be considered.

It’s about listening, destigmatising, and giving them pride. They’ve got to find their own purpose, but you can help them with that. Often, they have the solution.

Mentoring is ultimately about listening and it is important to remember that the service is about the women, not about yourself (despite all good intentions). As Julie says: Don’t take the mentoring job to grow. You will grow… it’s always about the mentee. It has to be about the mentee.

Despite this, there is a lot to gain for mentors such as Julie. As she reflects:

I love catching up with the women and it’s about turning around a difficult situation. They have so much to live for and it’s great to see them happy and smiling. Many of them have had a rough life and I love it when I can teach them a few things and they teach me also. I get a lot from mentoring. I learn a lot from them, about looking at problems through their eyes. It grounds me.

In conclusion, as Julie says:

People like the cliché of ‘giving back’ but personally it grounds me. Otherwise, you just live in your own little world.  Many of these women really need support, and it’s a privilege to get to be part of their journey. 

Thank you to Julie Babineau. Julie was interviewed by Board member Associate Professor Diane van den Broek in late 2022 and she shared her experience of mentoring with Success Works.  

Success Works believes that mentoring is an enormously effective and beneficial process for women affected by the criminal justice system. We acknowledge the essential and valuable contribution Mentors make in providing support and empowerment to women who are committed to seeking, securing, and maintaining employment. We are currently looking for new mentors. Could you change a woman’s life?

We are currently looking for new Mentors. Could you change a woman’s life?


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