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Studio portrait photograph of Blair McFarland

Founder, Central Australian Youth Link-Up Service    
Northern Territory | 2024 Australian of the Year

Blair McFarland witnessed the devastating impact of petrol sniffing on Indigenous communities in Central Australia in the 1990s. In response, he established Central Australian Youth Link-Up Service (CAYLUS) to address substance misuse by young people and improve their lives.

Blair and CAYLUS were instrumental in advocating for the roll-out of low aromatic fuel and the implementation of the Low Aromatic Fuel Act 2013. The result has been a staggering 95% reduction in volatile substance misuse.

Petrol sniffing got beyond the scale where communities could deal with it. We needed a more coordinated response, and we needed a response that drew everybody into the tent to fix it.

There's a lot more work to do, and it's about making lives better for kids.

Motorbike helmet

Low aromatic fuel discourages petrol sniffing but was falsely rumoured to cause poor mechanical performance. To challenge the doubters, Blair fuelled up and took to the road. He wore this helmet when riding his motorbike around Central Australia. Those trips not only proved that low aromatic fuel was reliable, they also gave Blair a break from the hard but necessary work of reducing volatile substance misuse.

Photo of a motorbike helmet

Motorbike helmet from Blair McFarland

This exhibition was developed by the National Museum of Australia in collaboration with the National Australia Day Council. Portrait images supplied by the National Australia Day Council.

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