Jaki Adams, Director of Social Justice and Regional Engagement at the Fred Hollows Foundation, has been awarded this year’s Outstanding Contribution to the Sector Award for her 25 years of commitment and advocacy for social justice and First Nations peoples in both the domestic and international development sectors.
Jaki’s significant contribution in championing health equity and involvement through her role with the Fred Hollows Foundation and the International Agency for the Prevention of Blindness as the Chair of the First Nations Special Interest Group, has elevated the voices of both Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples and Indigenous peoples globally.
Through her work and commitment, she has supported and developed meaningful relationships across the Pacific region, progressing a global network to improve eye care access for First Nations and Indigenous peoples.
She has been instrumental in leading the commitment from the Fred Hollows Foundation to core principles of engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities. These principles subsequently formed the basis of the Allies for Uluru Coalition, a network that has culminated in over 275 organisations supporting the implementation of the Uluru Statement From the Heart.
Jaki has also contributed a wealth of experience and invaluable expertise through numerous other roles, including: 2022 Atlantic Fellow for Social Equity, Board Secretary for ANTAR, Board Director at Thirrili, Board Director at Vision 2020, Melbourne University Indigenous Eye Health Unit Advisory Board Member, The Fred Hollows Foundation’s lead representative on the national Close the Gap Steering Committee, and more.
“Thank you to those deadly people who nominated me, ACFID and the sector for the acknowledgement and support, it is very much appreciated. I don’t do what I do for any accolades, but to be acknowledged in this way is special,” Jaki said.
She stated that as a proud Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander woman dedicated to supporting the rights and voice of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, receiving the award felt “bittersweet” following the referendum outcome.
“To our Allies who continue to stand up and support us, I ask that you continue to do so with unwavering love, commitment, and determination,” Jaki said.
“I can only speak for myself, and I am hurting—hurting for our ancestors, our youth and our future. I know we are strong and resilient people who come from a place of love and hope, and we will continue to use our voice and assert our sovereignty and self-determination.”
The ACFID Outstanding Contribution to the Sector Award is given annually, with this year’s award presented at the 2023 ACFID conference dinner in Sydney, where Jaki’s daughter graciously attended on her behalf.
The award is presented to an individual or organisation that has made an outstanding contribution to the Australian aid and development NGO sector over an extended period of time. It also recognises those who have made a substantial contribution to the whole sector, above and beyond their own organisation.
Jaki’s daughter at the ACFID conference dinner 2023, accepting the award on Jaki’s behalf.
Image credit: Neli Raycheva