Clos­ing the gap af­ter prison

Southern Gazette (South Perth) - - NEWS - Jes­sica War­riner

NGALLA Maya may just be a peb­ble in the wa­ter, but the rip­ples are far­reach­ing for lo­cal Abo­rig­i­nal fam­i­lies.

The Bel­mont-based not-for-profit or­gan­i­sa­tion of­fers a va­ri­ety of ser­vices to help the in­dige­nous and dis­ad­van­taged com­mu­ni­ties, spe­cial­is­ing in help­ing peo­ple find work af­ter prison.

It re­cently re­ceived a $5000 vol­un­teer grant from the Depart­ment of So­cial Ser­vices.

“We’ve run for nearly three years with noth­ing. Some­times our phones get turned off,” Ngalla Maya chief ex­ec­u­tive and Noon­gar man Mervyn Eades said.

Mr Eades, who was first in the jus­tice sys­tem at just 13 years old and has been out of prison for 15 years, knows first-hand what ser­vices are needed.

“As lived ex­pe­ri­ence I’ve been in prison, and com­ing out I knew that there’s a gap in the com­mu­nity that doesn’t cre­ate re­al­is­tic op­por­tu­ni­ties of ed­u­ca­tion, train­ing and em­ploy­ment for our broth­ers and sis­ters,” Mr Eades said.

“My thought at the time was to close the gap, close the prison-to-com­mu­nity gap, and give op­por­tu­ni­ties to th­ese boys and girls – some self-hope and self-worth.

“If they get en­gaged in train­ing and get qual­i­fi­ca­tions and get into jobs, that changes the dy­nam­ics of their fam­i­lies and their chil­dren. It’s just a small peb­ble chucked into the wa­ter with a lit­tle rip­ple ef­fect.”

Grate­ful Ngalla Maya – Noon­gar for ‘our place’ – grad­u­ates came back to help Mr Eades and his team when the cen­tre was strug­gling to make rent last year.

“They heard we weren’t trav­el­ling too well and in jeop­ardy of hav­ing the doors shut, even though the land­lord helps us so much and goes out of his way,” Mr Eades said.

To find out more about Ngalla Maya or do­nate, visit its web­site at ngal­la­

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