NTState RecipientAustralian of the Year2012
After graduating in medicine from Monash University, Dr John Boffa knew he wanted to use his skills to help the disadvantaged, so he applied for a visa to work on a mission in India. While waiting for his visa to arrive he went to work at a health service in Tennant Creek. Six weeks later the visa arrived but 23 years on, John can be still be found working in the Northern Territory in pursuit of his life-long commitment to Indigenous health development and alcohol-based reforms. Now a GP and the public health medical officer at the Central Australian Aboriginal Health Congress in Alice Springs, John has devoted his career to changing alcohol use patterns in Indigenous communities. Campaigns such as ‘Beat the Grog’ and ‘Thirsty Thursday’ highlighted the need to look beyond the individual to focus on the systems and structures that contribute to people’s behaviour. Over the years, John has played an active and inspirational role in changing attitudes toward alcohol in Northern Territory communities through supply reduction, early learning and mental health programs. He continues his remarkable contribution as the spokesperson for the People’s Alcohol Action Coalition reform group.