The Ngudjoong Billa reintegration & transition program strengthening cultural connections for Aboriginal young people

Ms Carol Thomas1, Mr  David Poulier1

1Juvenile Justice Nsw, , Australia

Juvenile Justice NSW is working in partnership with an Aboriginal community controlled organisation on the South Coast of NSW to implement a reintegration and transition program for Aboriginal young people.

Ngudjoong Billa is a language name for a permanent and reliable water source, a place of healing and renewal. The Ngudjoong Billa program provides intensive case management with a focus on strengthening cultural identity by building connections to family, community and country.

It is an innovative program testing the hypothesis that cultural identity is a protective factor for Aboriginal young people. Juvenile Justice has collaborated with the service provider to develop an evidence-based tool for measuring cultural identity and its impact on desistance from reoffending.

Central to the program’s success to date has been the partnership between the service and local Juvenile Justice workers who meet weekly to share information and plan together.

A key element of the Program is the development of a cultural plan with the young person which sets out the actions to support the young person to strengthen their cultural identity. A cultural questionnaire helps the worker explore the young person’s background, connections, supports and cultural knowledge.

Evaluation measures have been co-designed with the service provider. Evidence-based pre- and post-program tools have been developed for completion with young people, their families or carers and their Juvenile Justice caseworker.


Carol has a Bachelor of Arts (English and History) and a Graduate Certificate in Indigenous Substance Use. She is the Area Manager, South Coast and Tablelands, Juvenile Justice. Carol has extensive experience working with Aboriginal communities. Prior to Juvenile Justice, Carol worked with the South Coast Aboriginal Medical Service, managing their Substance Use and Programming areas and has worked in the past in Aboriginal programs and policy within Legal Aid NSW and Aboriginal Affairs NSW. She has been a Director on the board of Waminda, an Aboriginal women’s health service in the Shoalhaven, and is currently on the board of the Shoalhaven Readers and Writers Festival.

David Poulier is a Senior Project Officer in the Funded Services Unit of Juvenile Justice NSW. The Unit supports the administration of Juvenile Justice funded services and sets the strategic direction for the delivery of a range of targeted services to young people under the supervision of Juvenile Justice. He joined Juvenile Justice in December 2017 after a number of years in commissioning and planning roles within the NSW Department of Family & Community Services. He has a Bachelor of Social Work and Post-Graduate Certificate in Social Administration from the University of NSW.