June Oscar named Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner

Friend of The George Institute for Global Health, June Oscar AO (pictured above, right), will become Australia’s new Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner starting in April.

The George Institute began working with June nine years ago following an invitation from the communities of the Fitzroy Valley to help them address the devastating impact of alcohol on the community. June was adamant that the health of children in the community would not be sacrificed for the right to buy full strength alcohol. In 2009, The George Institute, in collaboration with Fitzroy Valley Indigenous organisations and the University of Sydney, conducted the first study of the prevalence of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders in remote Aboriginal communities reporting one of the highest prevalences worldwide. The wisdom and courage of June Oscar in leading this work on behalf of her organisaton, demonstrates her ability to tackle the most difficult issues affecting remote communities today. 

With June's appointment, her ability to improve the lives of those living in remote communities will strengthen. In a statement, June said: “The Social Justice Commissioner carries an important legacy and ongoing responsibility of upholding, safe-guarding and representing the needs and rights of all our people across Australia.

“As I go forward within this role, we will continue to work together to empower women, their children and families to have the life they deserve, while remaining safe and cared for by each other, and demanding that this journey has the full support of our nation. Together, I will ensure that we all remain committed to bringing our universal human rights to our people on the ground and defending them against all the odds.”

The George Institute welcomes this announcement and congratulates June. Principal Research Fellow, Professor Jane Latimer (pictured above, left) said: “It was wonderful to hear of June’s appointment, the first Aboriginal woman to hold this position. Her work to restrict access to alcohol and to tackle the challenges of fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, speaks to the wise but powerful and courageous person that she is. She understands intimately the issues for those living in remote Australia having lived much of her life in Fitzroy Crossing. 

“She is truly a great Australian who will create enormous impact in this role.”