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Wednesday, 9 May 2012
Page: 4454

Mr MATHESON (Macarthur) (16:49): I rise today to honour the memory of a great Australian man, Mr James Oswald Little AO, better known as Jimmy Little. Jimmy Little was one of Australia's most beloved singers and songwriters. He had a career which spanned over six decades. Like all of Jimmy Little's fans, I was extremely saddened to hear of his passing on 2 April. We truly have lost a national treasure. The man who was Jimmy Little will forever remain in our memory as a nation. He was the first Indigenous Australian to receive mainstream success in music, having a top 10 hit with Royal Telephone in 1963, following with numerous other single and album triumphs, not to mention too many individual accolades, including induction into the ARIA Australian Music Hall of Fame in 1999. Despite his many successes in the music and entertainment industry, Little was a humble man with a warm, gentle soul. He was passionate about his Indigenous Australian heritage and spent many years as an ambassador for literacy and numeracy for the department of education in order to improve educational standards within the Indigenous community. In 2004, Jimmy Little was made an Officer of the Order of Australia for service to the entertainment industry as a singer, recording artist and songwriter, and to the community for his reconciliation. As an ambassador for Indigenous culture, he was named a national living treasure later that year. Little was generous with both his wealth and his time. He was known for often adding his musical talents to any worthy Aboriginal cause and was widely respected within the Aboriginal community and indeed across Australia.

Jimmy Little suffered from diabetes and, like many sufferers of the disease, was going through kidney failure. However, in 2004 he experienced a life-changing event, receiving a kidney transplant, which enabled him to be free of the pain and the burden of regular renal dialysis. Just a few years after his kidney transplant, Jimmy created the Jimmy Little Foundation to educate Indigenous youth about health and diet with a focus on preventing diabetes within our Indigenous communities. The foundation also runs a mobile renal unit and advocates for better health outcomes for Indigenous communities.

Jimmy Little will be forever remembered by both Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians as a great entertainer, a great advocate and a great man. He was and will continue to be an exceptional role model for young Indigenous Australians. Jimmy really did bridge the divide between contemporary Australia and our remote Indigenous communities. I have great faith that Jimmy Little's legacy will live on for many generations to come. James Oswald Little AO, may you rest in peace. You will always be remembered and, Jimmy, I am sure you had many conversations with Jesus on your own royal telephone.