Power Generation: Overcoming Adversity

“Young Indigenous people making waves early in their careers talk about their defining moments, their hopes for the future and the challenges they’ve faced along the way”.  – Ella Archibald-Binge, Sydney Morning Herald 

Nathan Martin | MOB: Yuin | Founder and CEO of Yalagan Group 

When I was 15 I moved to Sydney to finish my schooling at Matraville Sports High. I lived by myself, and I loved it. As soon as I finished my HSC, I worked in the construction industry as a window fixer on high-rise buildings. I was lucky enough to have two beautiful kids. It wasn’t until I was 25 that I got myself into a lot of trouble.

I pleaded guilty to charges for supply of ecstasy and conspiracy to supply firearms. Growing up in an Aboriginal community, the crime was just everywhere. You see it every day and in the end, you become numb to it.

In prison you can go two ways: either you become a better criminal, or you decide that this isn’t what you want to do with your life. On my daughter’s sixth birthday, in my fourth year in prison, I just thought,

“This isn’t where I want to be.” I stayed awake for almost a week thinking about what I wanted to do when I was released. I looked at some of the people who were in jail with me and thought there weren’t many construction bosses who would give any of these boys a go. So, I thought “How do I create something that will?” 

The day I walked out of prison in 2016, it absolutely poured rain. I thought, “This is going to wash it all away and we’ll just start off fresh and get into it.”

My first step was to create Yalagan in 2017. The word is from the Yuin nation – it means “hard-working” or “smart fellow”. We recruit people from all backgrounds, but we have a strong focus on young Indigenous people and former prisoners.

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