FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
26th April 2021
Local MP praises the brilliant results of innovative youth justice program Ngudjoong Billa.
Member for Kiama Gareth Ward MP met with members of our Aboriginal Justice Reintegration Program Ngudjoong Billa last week to celebrate the positive results the program is having on youth in our communities.
The innovative program was implemented at South Coast Medical Service Aboriginal Corporation in 2017 in partnership with the Department of Justice and was developed specifically to provide support for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander young people within the Shoalhaven who are currently in the Juvenile Justice System. The program aims to encourage and support young offenders to reintegrate into the community and prevent re-offending.
Wellbeing Manager Wade Longbottom, who has been with the program since its inception noted that one of the biggest challenges in the early stages of the program is building positive, trusting relationships with young participants. Often they are disconnected from their own families and are couch surfing with no real support and can feel overwhelmed when they first join Ngudjoong Billa. Caseworkers work hard to build this trust with participants, and then go on to help set social goals such as getting a driver’s license, encourage connection with others on recreational days, and spend time with them exploring and developing an understanding of their culture.
“A big part of the success of the program is creating a cultural connection through the positive influence of mentors, access to elders and cultural history, and allowing the young people to determine their own direction on their cultural journey.”
Wade Longbottom – Wellbeing Manager.
Out of the 89 participants who have enrolled in the program, 80 completed the full 20 weeks, and 100% of those participants have gone on to live successfully in the community with zero cases of reoffense.
“This really is music to my ears. Choosing how to allocate funding is always hard, but hearing such positive results in the community I grew up in is brilliant. Thank you all for working so hard to achieve such great results”
Gareth Ward MP
Wade highlighted how the program is also helping to build positive relationships with the police and magistrate, with all parties reporting a noticeable improvement in respect and communication.
“I realised the path I was on was really bad and I wanted something better for my life. My 20 weeks with Jordan just flew by and now I want to do something good with my life, building, construction or anything with my hands. I am also planning to join the army.”
Ngudjoong Billa participant Tyrone Walter
Justice Support Program Team Leader Kim Reid identified the lack of youth programs in the area as a big problem and believes the introduction of new programs would be a great benefit to our local youth. The Ngudjoong Billa team also noted that extending the cutoff age for the program from 18 to 21 is a potential area for growth and success for our young people.
“It’s a fantastic job, I really enjoy sharing my experiences with the kids and I learn a lot from them too. A young person who just completed the program has already got a job, his license, and is saving for his own home, he’s doing unreal now.” Caseworker Richard Luland
Ngudjoong Billa – meaning
Ngudjoong [Nuj-ong] means water, Billa [Bill-ah] means watering hole or source of water in Dharawal. The name was chosen to represent our need to be replenished (water), and having that place to be replenished when you need to (water source).
For further information please contact
Jessica McGeachie – Executive Assistant
phone: 4448 0200 email: firstname.lastname@example.org