COACH is a community-strengthening program that aims to empower individuals and families through one-to-one mentoring, breaking generational cycles of poverty and family breakdown.
COACH stands for Creating Opportunities And Casting Hope.
COACH partners with not-for-profits and churches to train volunteer mentors and match them with individuals in need. Over 12+ months, COACH participants meet with their mentors each week.
A COACH mentor is a friend with purpose, offering practical help and mentoring towards life goals. These goals include education, employment, training, improved mental health, reduction in addictive habits, financial management, housing, family cohesion, decrease in social isolation, and improved physical and emotional wellbeing. Mentoring is a way to bring out the best in people and help them make use of their own resources. It also promotes individual responsibility and builds community cohesion.
COACH Network is operated by Crossway LifeCare (80%), in partnership with Mission Australia (20%). In the UK, COACH partners with Redeeming Our Communities to deliver the program. Currently there are 39 church organisations licensed to offer COACH and over 60 churches providing mentors.
“A series of tragic events set my life on a different path. I felt a failure. COACH embraced my whole family. Now my life is so different. My heart is open to new possibilities. I feel focused and strong and a part of the community.”
Vision + Mission + Values
Our vision is to see people in tough places flourish through one-to-one mentoring. We believe God cares deeply for the marginalized in society and our mission is to join in with Him to help people flourish emotionally, socially, economically and spiritually.
We are faith-based but not faith-biased and seek to benefit people no matter what their religion, race, disability or sexual orientation. We try to model Christ-centeredness, grace, care, trust and interdependence within our team and with others. We often partner with other organisations for the benefit of the community.
COACH is a flexible model that works with families and individuals for long-term, sustainable transformation of communities through high-quality mentoring.
COACH is goal focused, with at least 70% reaching significant goals. The program has proven outcomes and is subject to ongoing evaluation. COACH has been externally evaluated on two occasions by Monash University.
Quality and safety are central, underpinned by COACH’s simple but robust policy and procedural framework that includes best practice methodology and risk management strategies, a thorough screening, selection and matching process, and fourteen hours of high-quality mentor training, as well as ongoing training, accountability and troubleshooting. COACH is low cost and sustainable due to the volunteer-based nature of the program.
"Without COACH I would have been in jail I reckon. With COACH we were taught that we needed to work together."
The COACH program has been evaluated twice by Monash University. These evaluations have found that the program improves the health and wellbeing of families, with ongoing evaluation and monitoring embedded into our program methodology.
“Let God surprise you in it… let him change somebody else’s life through you.”
COACH Network Team
Rev Toby Baxter – Director and Co-Founder
Toby established his first mentoring programme in 1998 and has specialised in developing mentoring programs for vulnerable groups since then. He has trained over 900 mentors and coaches in the UK and Australia, co-founding COACH and a similar program in the UK.
Toby has over twenty-five years’ experience in community ministry and social work, with a focus on the juvenile justice and drug and alcohol sectors. He has management experience with the Department of Human Services and Southern Health’s Alcohol and Drug Services. He is a qualified and registered social worker in Australia and has completed a Masters of Practical Theology at ACOM / Sydney College of Divinity. Toby enjoys going on wild adventures with his family and running marathons.
Mark Matthews – National Training and Technical Manager Australia
Mark has worked in the social welfare sector of Melbourne for 30 years. He holds diplomas in social science and business and is trained in providing professional supervision and counselling.
Mark’s work has involved providing direct casework to clients, leading teams of social work and health professionals in service provision, and being instrumental in designing, developing and managing major crisis accommodation centres and housing programs across Melbourne. Since 2007, Mark has been responsible for the ongoing development of the COACH Community Mentoring program. Mark currently leads a community church in Rosebud (Victoria) that is offered to people who don’t feel they could easily fit within a mainstream church.
Sam Hearn – National Training and Technical Coordinator Australia
Sam is currently a Councillor for the Mornington Peninsula Shire, and recently finished five years serving as National Director of SURRENDER Australia – an organisation that creates partnerships and hosts events across Australia to engage Christians in local and global mission and justice activity. Prior to this he served for four years as a Mission and Ministry Coordinator with New Peninsula Baptist Church. He has also worked as a lecturer and consultant around organisational vision and strategy development.
He is one of the leaders of Jigsaw, a missional community shaped church that is based in his neighbourhood of Tanti Park. He is also the Chair of Tanti Park Social Enterprises, an organisation he co-founded to operate the HomeGround café and provide vocational training and placemaking alongside disadvantaged youth. He holds a Bachelor of Psychology, a Master of Arts in Leadership, and is a graduate of the Arrow Leadership Program.
Paul Beddoes – Manager, COACH Community Mentoring Partnership
Leading COACH in the City of Greater Dandenong, Paul is passionately committed to the organization’s mission to see people in tough places flourish.
Paul has been a leader and practitioner in the mentoring field since 2011, working in and managing community and school-based programs, peer support programs and specialized projects. Paul’s social services experience spans over fifteen years and includes roles in mental health, homelessness, justice and community safety, and Alcohol and Other Drugs counselling. His lived experience and expertise in psychosocial rehabilitation and community development has seen him work with people from diverse backgrounds, from corporate and government to asylum seekers and people in recovery. Paul holds a Bachelor of Social Sciences, a Grad Dip in Alcohol and Other Drugs, and a Grad Dip in Divinity.