The Big Brekky welcome Blair McFarland on air, who has been named the Northern Territory Australian of the Year for 2024, in an acknowledgement of his decades of work to improve the health and lives of some of the most disadvantaged youth in Australia.
Initially humbled and embarrassed by his nomination, Blair said the award places important value on significant contributions in challenging circumstances. “I do see it as a recognition of the capacity to really take on serious, seemingly intractable problems and overcome them.”
Blair moved to Central Australia in 1986, and as he came to understand the lives and culture of Indigenous people in the region, he also witnessed petrol sniffing take hold. This led to his set up Central Australian Youth Link-Up Service (CAYLUS) in 2002, which was instrumental in developing youth programs, orchestrating the roll-out of Low Aromatic Fuel (LAF, or Opal), and implementing the Federal Low Aromatic Fuel Act. The combination of these activities resulted in a 95 per cent reduction in volatile substance misuse.
Blair is also active in politics, advocacy, local radio and community services. In 2008, he received the Prime Minister’s Award for Outstanding Contribution in Drug & Alcohol Endeavours by the Australian National Council on Drugs.