Little goes a long way
A respected Harvey elder has received an Australian Corrections Medal for his distinguished service at Bunbury Regional Prison.
Greg Little has served at the South West corrections facility for almost two decades as a peer support officer. His role is to provide social welfare and counselling to indigenous and non-indigenous inmates within the facility.
The 71-year-old said there were only 170 prisoners when he first started, but that number had jumped to 600 today.
It’s tough, it’s an environment where you have to adjust, but now I am finding it hard to walk away from it all,
Mr Little said he started receiving faxes from the Department of Corrections saying there was a position at Bunbury Regional Prison about 20 years ago.
“I was ignoring them at first because I was settled and happy in my hometown of Pingelly. However, I came down for an interview and said I would do three months and I’m still there today.”
Mr Little said it took him two years to build relationships with the prisoners and staff.
I wouldn’t say they were out of control, but they had no leadership for 18 months before I got there, so it took a bit of work,
Bunbury Regional Prison Lieutenant Kerri Bishop said Mr Little’s value within the workplace was indescribable.
“He nurtures indigenous prisoners on Aboriginal values and works towards reducing the number of deaths in custody. He continually goes over and beyond,” Mrs Bishop said.
The corrections award is not the only award Mr Little has received. He also won the Naidoc Male Elder of the Year Award last year.
“I got an email asking if I wanted to go to Canberra and I got a huge surprise when I got there and received the award,” Mr Little said.
But it has not always been an easy path to success with Mr Little recalling leaving school at 13 to help his mum and dad.
Then the welfare man showed up and said I had to go back to school or he would take me away from my family to the mission because I wasn’t 14, so I went back to school,
“After school I would work for an hour to get five cents to get an ice-cream and if I worked for two hours I would be able to buy my siblings an ice-cream too.”
A strong work ethic has driven Mr Little to where he is today and he said it was important for the younger generation to find their skills and commit to improving.
You’ve got a skill, you find that, when you find that skill you keep it,
“Set a goal, be focused and be yourself.”
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