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Thumbs Up!

Advice: Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander readers are advised that this publication may contain images of people who have died.

In 2009, the Jimmy Little Foundation together with the Fred Hollows Foundation developed a multi sectoral program spanning the health arena, the education and arts sectors, and the food industry. The Uncle Jimmy Thumbs Up! Healthy Food Program promotes the eating of healthy food through music and education programs in schools and remote communities. The Jimmy Little Foundation pilot was conducted in four remote Arnhem Land communities of Millingimbi, Galliwinku, Gapuwiyak and Ramingining in May–June 2009.

Medicines Australia’s funding of the Uncle Jimmy Thumbs Up! Healthy Food Program enabled the Foundation to develop a comprehensive program of activities extending beyond the pilot, in the Northern Territory and several other states across Australia in 2010-2011. Throughout the term of the project, Medicines Australia provided the Jimmy Little Foundation with assistance in project management, capacity building and governance. In addition, Medicines Australia funded external assistance in project management and Medicines Australia member, PricewaterhouseCoopers, provided pro bono services.

Medicines Australia acknowledges the achievements of the program, including:

  • 42 School workshops: NT, WA, NSW and QLD
  • 22 songs and videos produced
  • More than 1000 children actively participated
  • 16 specialists engaged to deliver workshops and produce videos
  • 20,000 Thumbs Up! merchandise distributed—T-shirts, Badges, CDs, DVDs, Bags
  • Memorandum of Understanding with retail organisations, Arnhem Land Progress Association & Outback Stores, to promote Uncle Jimmy Thumbs Up! messages in stores
  • Thumbs Up! in stores—40 stores across NT, Qld, WA and SA
  • Thumbs Up! website launch 15 August 2011
  • Support from NT Department of Education—now in NT schools
  • Partnerships—NT Music School and VAMP TV
  • Minister Snowdon, Federal Minister for Indigenous Health, announced Local Community Campaign: – “Get Active! Eat good tucker—live longer”

Since Medicines Australia’s support of the Thumbs Up! Program, the Jimmy Little Foundation has been the successful recipient of $1million in grants awarded by the Commonwealth Government to continue the implementation of the Thumbs Up! initiative.

Total cost of Medicines Australia contribution to the Uncle Jimmy’s Thumbs Up! program over a two year period: $773,000

Thumbs Up! website

On 15 August 2011, The Jimmy Little Foundation launched its Thumbs Up! website. The website was funded through the Medicines Australia Special Purpose Fund as part of the Thumbs Up! program, and supported by the Northern Territory Government. Developed in partnership with the NT Department of Education, the website includes a teacher section outlining lesson plans which align with the Northern Territory and draft national curriculums, particularly through the Remote Schools Curriculum and Assessment Materials. The launch of the website at Miliner Primary School, Darwin NT, was attended by the Hon Dr Chris Burns, Northern Territory Minister for Education and Training.


Medicines Australia was saddened to learn of the passing of Jimmy Little on 2 April 2012. Jimmy was not only a legendry talented musician and entertainer, but also a passionate advocate for Indigenous health initiatives.

While his passing is extremely sad, the Jimmy Little Foundation is a fitting monument to a lifetime devoted to helping other Indigenous Australians. Medicines Australia is proud to be part of that story.

A State Memorial Service was held for Jimmy Little AO on 3 May 2012.