Based in Lightning Ridge, NSW the Jimmy Little Foundation is working to improve the quality of life and access to health care for remote and regional communities.

The Foundation’s focus is promoting healthy outcomes for Indigenous Australians facing Chronic Kidney Disease (CKD) and the demands of dialysis. It currently depends solely on donations to run its programs and advocacy ventures.

The late Jimmy Little, a proud Yorta Yorta man, musician and actor founded the Jimmy Little Foundation in 2006. After undergoing a kidney transplant, he used his performances as an opportunity to tell the communities he visited there is good quality of life after dialysis.

Little’s daughter, Frances Peters-Little, is now Managing Director of the Foundation. She said she’s proud of the Foundation’s current board of directors, who are all Indigenous women.

“When my father passed away, with his wishes, I came on board at the Foundation. At that point the board of directors was very functional, it was also all men,” she said.

“That was one of the first things I noted that there needed to be more women, and definitely more Indigenous members.”

“The board is now all Aboriginal women. They’re all very qualified members that are connected to the community.”

Over the years, the Jimmy Little Foundation has supported the Return to Country program, an initiative that allows patients and carers to make short visits home between dialysis sessions, as well as Charles Sturt University’s Jimmy Little Foundation Scholarship, which helps regional-based health students with the financial pressures of moving for tertiary education.

The Foundation has also played pivotal roles in obtaining dialysis chairs for the Armidale Hospital renal unit and the campaign for Dubbo Base Hospital’s cancer centre.

In 2020, the Jimmy Little Foundation has spent time supporting families and community members impacted by the summer bushfires and COVID-19. The Foundation encourages regional communities to reach out if they need advocacy, support or financial help.

In 2021, the Foundation will expand the services it offers and its ability to run programs as it changes its status from charity to organisation.

Peters-Little said this will enable them to do much more for the community.

“We’re going through the process at the moment and it has been ongoing for months now,” she said.

“It will allow us to expand our programs and we’ll be able to apply for grants and grow as an organisation.”

By Darby Ingram