An early start
Ngala’s story began in 1890 as ‘The House of Mercy’, a refuge and maternity home for young pregnant women. It later became known as the Alexandra Home for Women.
Strong social pressures and stigma for unmarried mothers to relinquish their babies resulted in many who were born in the home being fostered or adopted. This practice continued until the 1980s. Ngala acknowledges the trauma that the forced adoption era caused many families, and we sincerely regret the role that our organisation has played in what we now know to be a harmful practice.
In 1949, the Alexandra Home for Women opened its 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 Ngala Mothercraft Home and Training Centre Inc.
The name Ngala 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.
A new direction
Ngala’s first Childcare Centre opened in 1971 with places for 54 children. It was one of a 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 a family-centred approach and 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.
100 years of service
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 known as the 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, positioned Ngala to champion father inclusive practice in the early years with our Hey Dad program, now DadsWA.
2021 and beyond
Today, Ngala operates across Western Australia, and continues to use the latest internal and external research and training, alongside community stories and experiences to develop and deliver services that meet the needs of today’s parents and children.
Raising Ngala offers a candid, fascinating insight into Ngala’s history, as well as its growth and evolution. It is only by looking back that the enormity of the journey can be truly understood. Buy the book: https://www.ngala.com.au/product/raising-ngala/
*Ngala sincerely regrets the trauma caused to parents, children and families by past adoption practices. You can read our statement of apology here.