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Big Brothers Big Sisters


Big Brothers/Big Sisters (BBBS) is an established organisation, in Australia, Canada and the United States, that provides mentoring support to vulnerable young people.

The community-based BBBS program matches a young person (Little) with an older volunteer (Big) who provides guidance and friendship with the aim of becoming a long-term positive role model. Bigs and Littles take part in shared-interest activities, however the emphasis is on the development of a friendship rather than on the activity. The program is flexible to meet the needs and availability of the young people and their mentors.

Evaluation Evidence

A 2009 Australian study (Moodie & Fisher) Australian study found that BBBS represents ‘excellent value for money’, as the program has the potential to provide long term savings related to modest reductions in the prevalence rates of high risk behaviours. Other studies have also reported positive outcomes for participants of the program. Tierney et al. (1995) found young people involved in the program were less likely to skip school or begin using illegal drugs and alcohol, and were more confident in their school work, and reported better relationships with their families.

Monitoring Recommendations

  • Boards should negotiate agreements to receive regular progress reports.
  • Monitoring information should include: training activity; the number of mentor - mentee relationships; and the amount of mentor - mentee activity.
  • Boards should request information on improvements to targeted risk and protective factors, and target behaviours over time compared to control communities.

Big Brothers Big Sisters Australia Limited.

1300 463 686
Program details
Target Audience: 
7 - 17 years
Target Risk Factors: 
  • Low neighbourhood attachment
  • Community disorganisation
  • Personal transitions & mobility
  • Community transitions & mobility
  • Poor family management and discipline
  • Family history of antisocial behaviour
  • Parental attitudes favourable to problem behaviour
  • Family conflict
  • Rebelliousness
  • Antisocial behaviour
  • Favourable attitudes to problem behaviour
  • Sensation seeking
  • Interaction with antisocial peers
  • Friends' use of drugs
Target Protective Factors: 
  • Community opportunities for prosocial involvement
  • Community rewards for prosocial involvement
  • Social skills
  • Belief in moral order
Community Indicators: 
  • Low income, unemployment
  • Sole parent, family breakdown