Ngala’s story began in 1890, and was known as ‘The House of Mercy’, a refuge and maternity home for young pregnant women. It later became known as Alexandra Home for Women.
The Home’s policy was to keep mothers and babies together as much as possible. However, many babies born in the Home were fostered or adopted. This practice continued until the 1980s. The separation from family had significant impacts for many.
In 1949, the Alexandra House for Women opened their first training facility in WA for mothercraft nurses. It was named Alexandra Home for Mothers and Babies and Mothercraft Training School, and later, changed to Ngal-a Mothercraft Home and Training Centre Inc. Ngal-a was chosen from Aboriginal Noongar language and means ‘We two, the dual between parents and children’. The centre soon included infant health nurse training (now child health nursing) for registered nurses and midwives.
Ngala’s first Childcare centre opened in 1971 with places for 54 children. It was one of very few registered not-for-profit day nurseries in Perth in response to a community need for affordable childcare.
During the 1980s, Ngala changed its focus to family-centred approaches. Ngala was no longer involved in out of home care for children or mothercraft training. Child Health Nursing training was transferred to Curtin University in 1985.
In 1990, the early Child Health Hotline began operating out of hours by child health nurses, which laid the foundation for the Ngala Helpline (now Ngala Parenting Line).
Exciting new evidence emerged about early brain development and perinatal mental health, which was used to improve Ngala’s services. We embraced a holistic approach to early parenting education and support.
In 1995, a move to the current Kensington premises marked a new growth period for Ngala Family Resource Centre, as it was known. Expansion began into the community in outer metropolitan and country areas with group and education programs.
The 1990s also marked the beginning of Ngala’s strong partnership approach. Our focus on working with the whole family, not just mothers and babies, postioned Ngala to champion father inclusive practice in the early years with our Hey Dad program, now DadsWA.
In 2007, Ngala established a research agenda and built partnerships with universities and other key organisations to promote and build on the evidence-base for early childhood and parenting knowledge and practice.
In 2016, Ngala’s merger with Geraldton Regional Community Education Centre formed Ngala Midwest and Gascoyne. The teams in these two regions had worked more extensively with families of school age children and teens, and their expertise complemented our experience in the early years.
Now, many Ngala programs, incuding the Ngala Parenting Line, support older children and teens.
Ngala’s future looks to new, innovative approaches to deliver on our mission. Support from Government, the community sector, corporate sector, university partners and everyday donors make this possible.
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