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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4452


Mrs PRENTICE (Ryan) (16:35): I rise today on behalf of the residents of the Ryan electorate to remember one of Australia's most famous and inspirational Aboriginal musicians, Jimmy Little. James Oswald 'Jimmy' Little died earlier this year at his home in the city of Dubbo after a long struggle with diabetes, kidney problems and a heart condition. He was born in 1937 on the Cummeragunja Mission on the New South Wales-Victorian border and in 1955 moved to Sydney to pursue his musical career. Jimmy Little was a true pioneer in the Australian music industry. He was one of the first Indigenous artists to achieve mainstream music success and over the course of his 60-year career played almost every music style imaginable from country to reggae. According to his manager, Graham Bidstrup, Jimmy Little achieved his success despite being forced, through the late 1950s and early 1960s, by nightclub owners to use the back door because of the colour of his skin. In 1999, Jimmy Little was inducted into the ARIA Hall of Fame for Messenger, a collection of contemporary songs he had reinterpreted. In the same year he won Best Male Artist of the Year and Best Single Release of the Year at The Deadlys—the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Music Awards.

In addition to his musical career, Jimmy Little was a strong advocate for Indigenous Australians and served as a mentor for many Indigenous children. In 2006, he established the Jimmy Little Foundation to bring a healthier future to Indigenous Australians. The foundation works to combat high rates of kidney disease and diabetes in Aboriginal communities. Jimmy Little's outstanding contribution to Australian society has been recognised through a number of awards, including having been made an Officer of the Order of Australia and appointed as a National Living Treasure. On behalf of the people of Ryan, may I extend my condolences to Jimmy Little's family, friends and the many Australians who are fans of his music and I acknowledge the substantial contribution he made to the lives of Indigenous Australians.