Award-recognised tutoring club for kids seeks new mentors

  • 10 March 2022

Auspire sat down with James “Jim” Sharp to find out about the work of Achievers Club WA that led to his receiving the 2022 Senior Community Citizen of the Year Award and his hopes for the rest of the year.

In just one of the nominations for Jim Sharp as a 2022 Community Citizen of the Year, he was described to ‘firmly believe that education can be the path out of poverty, and that every child, no matter their circumstances, should be given every chance to meet their potential.’

In some form or other, he has been involved in helping people from disadvantaged or low socio-economic backgrounds, whether that’s with a position on the Board of Amnesty International Australia or through coordinating the public volunteer arm of ASeTTS – the association that provides support to refugee survivors of torture and trauma.

It’s through ASeTTS that Jim and several other volunteers found their drive to help a particular section of the community who are struggling.

“We had a small group who were helping children from refugee families,” explains Jim. “The big issue was that their parents didn’t have a good enough command of English to help the kids with their homework, so we had substitute grandparents, aunties and uncles, helping them instead.”

Led by Danny McEvoy, the group grew to seven volunteers, operating in Girrawheen. Due to funding issues, the volunteer program dissolved, which could have triggered the end of the homework help, but instead led to the group becoming incorporated as a charity in 2015, and Achievers Club WA was born with Danny as President.

“I became a mentor to a 10-year-old Sudanese boy,” recalls Jim. “I had a chat with the boy’s dad and found out that I was driving up from Roleystone and he was driving up from Byford! It shows how much value he placed on the help, but it encouraged us to think about growing. It was then that I had a chat with a good mate of mine, Tony Buti. He thought it was a great idea and that there was a need for it in Armadale. He put me in touch with a few of the primary schools and we decided to set up an Armadale chapter, which has now been running for four years.”

Through this growth, the club now helps 20 students out of the Girrawheen Hub and 10 in Armadale, which operates in Westfield Park Primary School library, on Saturday mornings. The mentors have been able to see students who once struggled with Maths and English go on to university and find employment in a skilled trade, which Jim says is the end goal and what makes the role so worthwhile.

“Seeing how much the families appreciate getting the help and how much the kids flourish. Amnesty is a bit remote – you’re campaigning for human rights – whereas this is grassroots, direct help. The parents say that without the club, [their kids going to university] wouldn’t have happened.”

Jim then recounts a recent conversation with the deputy principal at Westfield Park Primary School about one of the Club’s students, whose NAPLAN test results have improved dramatically since he joined the Club. Jim had just emailed the student’s mum to ask if he wanted to continue this year and she replied with a definite ‘Yes please!’ about a minute after he had pressed ‘send’.

Despite the growth and value of Achievers Club WA, like many grassroots charities, it has its challenges – the COVID-19 pandemic meant that face-to-face mentoring was paused, and many of the families that the Armadale centre helps can’t afford a laptop or computer for online tutoring; finding more volunteers to be mentors to the number of children who would benefit from the mentoring.

“Our plan is to get to 16 students in Armadale by the end of the year and then open another centre. There’s big demand from the students and schools, and we can get the space, but we need more mentors.”

Mentoring – what’s involved

A student will be assigned to one mentor (or two who volunteer on alternate Saturdays). Mentoring happens on Saturday mornings from 10am-12pm, beginning with a quiz or a game. Mentors and students then break away to do a Maths lesson and an English lesson via a program called IXL.

“The child answers the questions and if they get it right, they move onto the next question,” explains Jim. “If they get one wrong, the program shows the technique to get to the correct answer. All the mentor needs to do is walk them through the technique on the program and the next few questions will be very similar to the question they got wrong. My maths at school was hopeless, but I can still do it!”

To enquire about becoming a mentor, visit

Community Citizen of the Year Awards

Like many Community Citizen of the Year recipients, Jim values the Award for raising the profile of the wider community group that he represents.

“It gives the club recognition and raises the profile. If it can be an example to attract other people to do this sort of volunteering, that will be the biggest reward. If it triggers someone to say, ‘I want to do that’, that would be great.”

Thinking back to receiving the Award on Australia Day, he adds: “It was actually great to go along to the ceremony and meet the other nominees and recipients – one or two, we might link up with in some way.”

Nominations are now open for the 2023 Community Citizen of the Year Awards. If you know someone contributing to their community, nominate them now at

The Community Citizen of the Year Awards are proudly supported by 9 News Perth, WA Today and News Talk 6PR 882.

Student images supplied by Achievers Club WA.

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