JLF Programs » Thumbs Up! Schools Program

(Good tucker - Long life)

Nutrition education for children

The Thumbs Up! Schools Program is aimed at Indigenous children aged 5-16. A creative environment using music and new media workshops in schools and community concerts is employed to promote healthy eating education and information in partnership with local stores and local health services.

The aim is to encourage young Indigenous Australians to make better and healthier food choices particularly in regard to the drinking of adequate amounts of water daily instead of sweet sugar-laden drinks and also to promote the eating more fruit and vegetables as snacks rather than choosing “junk” foods.

The incidence of diabetes in Indigenous communities leading to the inevitable associated chronic diseases decimating the Indigenous population is alarmingly high. Programs aimed specifically at Indigenous youth, informing them of the food choices required for a healthy life are in abundance but using a high-profile Indigenous role model like Dr. Jimmy Little AO who has lived with diabetes together with his young artists will help get the message through.


Five remote Arnhem Land communities were involved in the Thumbs Up! pilot in 2009, growing to 10 communities in 2010 and scheduled for 30 in 2011.

Indigenous artists Shellie Morris and Allen Murphy joined Jimmy to deliver the Thumbs Up! message to the following communities: Ramingining, Gapuwiyak, Galiwinku, Milingimbi, Yirrkala, Gunbalanya, Maningrida and Tennant Creek in the NT and Blackstone, Beagle Bay, One Arm Point and Lombadina in WA .

Please click here to hear what Elizabeth Dhurrkay, a senior woman from Milingimbi thought of the program. 

Education surrounding healthy food options in remote areas is intrinsically linked to longer life expectancy for Indigenous communities. Healthy eating has a direct co-relation to the incidence of kidney failure which is destroying families and communities accounting for at least one in three Indigenous deaths. It has been said that it is hard for children to be educated if they are unhealthy and to be healthy they need to be educated.

Thumbs Up! continues to be rolled out in schools and communities across Arnhem land and the Northern Territory with signage and Jimmy Little Thumbs Up! messages in all ALPA and Outback Stores cross the Northern Territory and soon in stores in Western Australia and South Australia and Far North Queensland.

“Music is the universal language of love,” says Jimmy Little.

Our team and I travel around Australia to remote and not-so-remote communities to spread the messages of how important it is to eat good tucker.

Uncle Jimmy stays strong with champion boxer Tony Mundine.

The unique combination of music, song writing, story telling and positive food messages are the keys to the success of Thumbs Up!

Young people naturally embrace music culture and are directly influenced by messages, trends & lifestyle choices which the artists they admire and respect.

Music is the Thumbs Up! vechicle that engages the youth and ensures the challenging and difficult process of delivering the Thumbs Up! message is achieved.

Indigenous music role models such as Jimmy Little are rare. His career spanning six decades is unsurpassed by any other Australian artist. Jimmy’s position as an Indigenous elder and entertainment icon ensures his status and capacity to attract and engage young artists who will follow in his footsteps and continue the Thumbs Up! legacy.