Elder of Year’s work recognised

Jacinta CantatoreHarvey-Waroona Reporter
Harvey Shire CEO Annie Riordan, President Tania Jackson and 2019 Male Elder of the Year Greg Little. Photo: Nicolette Barbas
Camera IconHarvey Shire CEO Annie Riordan, President Tania Jackson and 2019 Male Elder of the Year Greg Little. Photo: Nicolette Barbas Credit: Picture: Nicolette Barbas

Noongar elder and highly respected mentor Greg Little has been named Naidoc Week Male Elder of the Year.

The prison support officer was recognised for his work helping Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander prisoners and their families at Bunbury Regional Prison.

The Harvey resident has worked at the prison for 19 years and volunteers for several community groups throughout the South West.

In further recognition of his tireless work, Mr Little was also recognised with the Elder of the Year award and the Lifetime Achievement award at the Bunbury Naidoc Week celebrations.

Mr Little plays an integral mentoring role in the prison through his management of the prisoner peer support team, which is aimed at helping the prisoners reconnect with their culture, families and each other.

He advises staff at the prison on cultural matters, runs the Yarning Circle to give guidance and cultural reconnection, is an active member of the prisoner risk assessment group and provides crisis, group and family counselling.

With the help of other elders who visit the prisoners as part of the Yarning Circle, Mr Little said he is able to help inmates feel like they have something to work towards on the outside.

“This younger generation need us more now than ever before,” Mr Little said. “There is so much out there now that brings our young ones down.

“The program we run lets them know they are not on their own once they leave prison.”

He said the support he offered developed naturally over time and prisoners and their families came to him for guidance.

He credited the support he received from his own family as the reason he could help others.

“I give thanks for my family, my parents and especially for my wife Margaret,” Mr Little said.

“I hold that award up for them.”

Harvey shire president Tania Jackson said the award was great recognition of the work Aboriginal elders did in the community.

“This is wonderful, national recognition of his efforts, our community is lucky to have him,” she said.

Corrective Services Minister Fran Logan said Mr Little’s commitment to prisoners went beyond the prison walls by also working with prisoners’ families to build stronger relationships.

“We all know that the levels of indigenous incarceration need to be brought down and it’s the work of people like Uncle Greg that can help make that happen,” Mr Logan said.

“Uncle Greg has not only helped prisoners with the Yarning Circle, peer support group and counselling, but also their families by continuing his great work outside the prison walls."

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