Ngalla Maya is a not-for-profit organisation helping the most vulnerable and poorest to transform their lives and that of their families. Ngalla Maya turns no-one away and we do not give up on anyone. Redemption should be an inalienable right. In Australia, one in 9 of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders (First Nations peoples) have been to prison - an abomination that Ngalla Maya works to address. In Western Australia, one in 6 of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have been to prison.
Ngalla Maya works to inspire and commit former inmates to training and education opportunities that lead to employment. Ngalla Maya provides mentoring and psychosocial support to the trainee and to their family members if required.
Tragically, the research states that people leaving prison are at elevated risk to an unnatural death and aberrant behaviour. They are ten times more likely to die unnaturally - including suicide - than while in custody. Ngalla Maya provides hope.
As of June 2016, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples comprised 28 per cent of all prisoners despite comprising less than three per cent of the national population. There is an urgency to respond or otherwise in 2025, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples will comprise in excess of 50 per cent of the national prison population.
Where the incarceration of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders was predominately of males, in 2016 in excess of 10 per cent of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inmates are females.
In 2016, the State and Territory prison populations comprised the following proportions:
Nationally, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth, aged 10 to 17, comprise 55 per cent of the inmates in juvenile detention. Western Australia incarcerates Aboriginal juveniles at the nation’s highest rate – 56 times of non-Aboriginal youth.
Repeat offending is increasing with 78 per cent of prisoners, nearly 8,000 of the more than 10,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inmates, having served a prior conviction. One third of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander inmates have served at least 5 prior convictions.
The prison experience should be transformative and not punitive where a constancy of traumas degenerate inmates to complex traumas and to a furthered sense of hopelessness. The key elements of the prison experience should be to counsel inmates to the point of having assisted in improving their wellbeing, and to avail inmates to various rehabilitation, training and education and further assist in their transition from the positive pre-release experience to positive post-release experiences. Prisons lack the vital preparations for a positive post-release experience and instead post-release poses disturbing risks, with various studies describing up to ten times the rate of death for former inmates in the first year post-release when compared to the death rate while in custody. One Western Australian study reported that the risk of death of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders in the first year post-release was higher than that of non-Aboriginal former inmates, more than 3 times.
Providing authentic trauma informed recovery and counselling, various validation, redemption and the care coordination to render these elements and subsequently introducing various training and educational opportunities to inmates and the various preparation to the post-release experience are the only ways forward to reducing re-offending and reducing negative impacts by former inmates on their families. The connection to mental health should never be understated, with improved wellbeing and educational qualifications and employment reducing alcohol addiction and substance misuse.
For Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders who come into contact with the criminal justice system, the median age for first contact is 13 years. The generational cycle of this can be broken with fathers and mothers reflecting improved wellbeing and hope on the horizon and the practical pathways to hope and a ‘good life’. Ngalla Maya programs and its various advocacies for individuals and their families – from ‘the point of entry to the point of exit’ – champion the road to wellbeing and tangible hope. Ngalla Maya programs must become the imprimatur on the prison to wellbeing to education and on the post-prison to wellbeing to education to employment programs.
Ngalla Maya visits Juvenile Detention and adult prisons and inspires and commits inmates to programs however if Ngalla Maya is adequately funded it will visit all Western Australian prisons and places of detention to inspire and commit and assist inmates to brighter futures. The aims of Ngalla Maya include national partnerships and a national roll-out of Ngalla Maya.
We work in tandem with the First Nations Homelessness Project and Advocacy Service to support vulnerable and at-risk families.
Ngalla Maya works with an increasing number of Registered Training Organisations.
Ngalla Maya is overseen by a Steering Committee that includes the 'coalface', experts in their fields and stakeholders - all dedicated to transforming lives.
"There is no greater legacy than to improve the lot of others - to change lives, to save lives."