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Jimmy Little reaches out -

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Jimmy Little reaches out

Reporter: Murray McLaughlin

KERRY O'BRIEN: During his 50 years in the Australian music industry, Jimmy Little's won virtually
every award there is, but his achievements don't stop there. In 1989 he was named Aboriginal of the
Year and he's also been awarded an Order of Australia for his work with Indigenous health and
education programs. And after receiving a kidney transplant 2.5 years ago, he's established the
Jimmy Little Foundation, to focus on improving kidney health and early childhood health, especially
in remote Aboriginal communities. Murray McLaughlin caught up with him in central Australia.

RADIO: It's the man himself, Jimmy Little - he's in the studio with me.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Six months out from his 70th birthday, Jimmy Little has a new mission.

JIMMY LITTLE: I'm here with the message as well. The message is all about setting up a foundation,
a kidney foundation that should raise some money, extra money, with shows and a lot of entertainers
on board. Hello, my brother.


JIMMY LITTLE: Will I play for you?


MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Jimmy Little spends more time these days comforting kidney patients than he does
on the concert circuit. He was on dialysis himself for two years until he was lucky enough to get a
kidney transplant in February 2004.

JIMMY LITTLE: (Sings) # Baby blue # Do you know ...#

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: The experience opened his eyes to the appalling statistics of kidney disease
among Indigenous people.

JIMMY LITTLE: (Sings) # How I want you # Baby blue ...#

They've been dismissed for so long, this was a shock and it made me angry to think that it had got
to this stage. So if I can turn my anger into positive action, along with like-minded people, then
if I can save somebody a day or a week or a month or a year I'm doing something from my own

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Jimmy Little chose Alice Springs last week to launch his own charitable
foundation. The annual croc festival in Alice Springs attracts more than 2,000 primary school
students from more than 40 central Australian schools and its primary message is health promotion.



MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Jimmy Little wants his foundation to promote and improve kidney health across
Indigenous communities. Especially he wants to help patients from remote communities like Kintor in
the Western Desert near the Northern Territory border with Western Australia. From here it's a
journey of more than 500kms for dialysis treatment in Alice Springs.

JIMMY LITTLE: People have to go a lot of kilometres to places where the clinics are and then have
to go back to country, back home. This is very taxing on the mind and the spirit of the whole
family and the community.

SARAH BROWN, WESTERN DESERT DIALYSIS: We don't call it relocation. We call it dislocation.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Sarah Brown manages a dialysis clinic in Alice Springs for patients from the
Western Desert. Six years ago there were seven people from the Western Desert on dialysis. Today
there are 32 and the clinic knows of at least 40 more out there with failing kidneys.

SARAH BROWN: They go from being a member of the community where they are valued to people really
living on the fringes of society. Their whole lives revolve around 15 hours of dialysis a week
which has to happen every second day. They have to negotiate housing, they have to negotiate
income. There are pressures with living in a town to do with alcohol and violence.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: To relieve the burden of isolation from home, the Western Desert people are
helping themselves. Some of Australia's best-known artists live in the Western Desert and they've
raised nearly $1.5 million from auctions of their paintings to run at Kintor the most remote
dialysis unit in Australia. It enables desert patients on dialysis in Alice Springs to get home
twice a year and helped inspire Jimmy Little to set up his foundation.

JIMMY LITTLE: There can be Kintors everywhere in terms of remote and regional communities being
assisted by well-meaning and well-situated people right across the board to install and keep it
happening - the curing, the prevention and the enabling people to extend and enjoy their life under
those conditions. Sometimes family come and see you, hey? Sometimes.

MAN: Yeah, sometimes.

SARAH BROWN: He's got to know our patients from the Western Desert fairly well over the last six
months or so. He's heard their stories of the difficulties they have when they come to town and the
loneliness they experience and he has actually offered them a lot of comfort.

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Jimmy Little is now spared the dislocation and boredom that comes with dialysis
because he's had a kidney transplant. But being Aboriginal, he's very much an exception. Indigenous
people are only one-third as likely to get a transplant as other people on dialysis. Dr Alan Cass
is leading a study into why Aboriginal people aren't getting equal access to transplants.

DR ALAN CASS, KIDNEY SPECIALIST, THE GEORGE INSTITUTE: There are issues of people who live remotely
being perhaps many hundreds or even thousands of kilometres away from specialist kidney transplant
services. Difficulties in organising key tests to tell whether someone is fit for a transplant,
like checking their heart, cardiac status. Issues of general communication with Aboriginal kidney

MURRAY MCLAUGHLIN: Dr Alan Cass also is advising Jimmy Little and his new foundation. The
foundation will be driven as much by others' philanthropy as Little's own communication skills and
innate empathies.

JIMMY LITTLE SINGS: #Now I know that you won't be here no more.# It breaks my heart. I still put on
a smile and a face and be jolly rather than morbid and sad and overly sympathetic, but inside of me
I'm breaking down. (Sings) # Now I know you won't want me to go. # I do get hurt in my sensitivity
and I just want to do more. The anger in me makes me want to do more and the heartbreak wants me to
do more. I'll come back again after. Alright ...#