At the very end of last year, Friends of Ngala members were shocked to hear former President Hon. Barbara Scott OAM was graciously stepping down.

Barbara’s well-known work with WA’s families has made her an influential person within the community and a valued Friends of Ngala leader. However, Barbara isn’t resting on her laurels — she has promised to stay on the committee and soon after won a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for her work in early childhood education!

Barbara passed on the leading role to Shelley Archer.

Those who’ve met Shelley Archer know she’s a passionate supporter for gender equality, plus education, health and wellbeing for disadvantaged children. Now, we feel lucky to call her the Friends of Ngala President.

She also has a rich history with Ngala, leading back to when Shelley was a young mother at just 15 years old.

When Shelley first needed Ngala

Shelley was shocked to learn she was pregnant at the tender age of 15. When the Doctor told her the news, she denied it, saying “I can’t be pregnant – I’m not married”.

Tough social norms meant others couldn’t see Shelley until she’d had her baby.

Four and a half months into her pregnancy, she was sent to Ngala to hide her growing belly. She spent five months with guidance from nurses, who looked after her health and wellbeing throughout.

Every week, child services met with Shelley to suggest she give her child up for adoption, believing she was too young.

Ngala nurses and her father encouraged her to keep the baby – if that’s what she truly wanted. It was.

Returning the love

Ngala helped Shelley through one of the hardest times in her life.

It wasn’t smooth sailing after she’d decided to keep baby Melanie. She’d broken the rules in more ways than one – first, she’d seen baby Melanie when she wasn’t supposed to after birth (she had to see that beautiful face), and second, she’d convinced child services to let her family take Melanie to live with them in Perth.

Shelley raised Melanie with the full support of her large family and today, Melanie has a daughter in high school. Shelley adores spending time with her grandchild.

Now, she’s also taking the chance to give back meaningfully.

Friends of Ngala fundraise (and friend-raise) to support Ngala’s services for WA families. Friends come with many skills and experiences, and all are more than welcome.

Do you want to join Shelley, Barbara and other Friends of Ngala members in their important mission? Become a Friend today.