As Western Australia’s oldest not-for-profit celebrates its 130th birthday today, Ngala remains dedicated to adapting to the needs of the present.
Parenting and children service Ngala is an industry leader in early childhood intervention, but this is just the latest incarnation of an organisation that has undergone a number of rebirths in more than a century of operation.
When Ngala was founded under the name House of Mercy in September 1890, it was focused on providing support and shelter for unmarried mothers, who were shunned by society at the time. In 1918, Ngala experienced its first international pandemic, the Spanish Flu, supporting women and children through the pandemic, just as it has through COVID-19.
Today, Ngala runs 38 different programs and services for children from 0 to 18 years, including early learning and development centres, programs for Indigenous families, a parenting line and the Ngala Hospital in Kensington.
Ngala CEO Fiona Beermier said the approach to raising children had changed dramatically over the years, and Ngala had changed with it. “In the 1890’s, childrearing advice emphasised the importance of strict schedules and discipline from birth, with affection towards babies strongly discouraged,” she said.
In the 1980’s the importance of providing children with a loving and nurturing environment, and the impact on long-term outcomes were recognised by research.
“Ngala decided about 20 years ago to shift our focus to evidence-based care and make evidence central to everything Ngala offers.
“This enables Ngala to offer holistic care backed by data across the entire organisation.
“We believe every child deserves the opportunity to be their best, and that parenting should be a joyful and rewarding experience.”
Despite turning 130 this month, Ngala is evolving and embracing change and is once again improving its offering to deliver contemporary child development services.
A prime example is Ngala’s plans for an early childhood precinct next to its Kensington site, according to Ms Beermier. “The COVID-19 pandemic has reinforced the importance of remote service offerings and the precinct will increase Ngala’s capacity to provide digital parenting support,” she said.
“It’s important to adapt, while still maintaining a commitment to the organisation’s values and mission.”
The planned precinct will be built on a vacant block of Crown land gifted to the organisation by the State Government in 2018. The precinct is currently in the design phase, but when complete it will also facilitate intensive early parenting services, early learning and development programs and a research platform.
Ngala will celebrate its 130th birthday on Wednesday, September 23.
Rebecca Boteler, CGM Communications, 0424 569 179
Yvonne Tessensohn, Brand and Marketing Manager, Ngala, 0451 518 564