Following Michael Long’s spontaneous and gutsy 658km walk from his lounge room to the Hume Highway and to Canberra last year ‘to see the Prime Minister and talk about indigenous issues’ a whole movement has grown and the symbolism of the act seems to have entered Australian folklore. Michael says it “isn’t about indigenous Australia and white Australia – this is about ALL Australia”; Rosie from Northcote says “So many Australians are with you both in spirit, though we may not be on the road” (www.longwalk.com.au).
WHAT’S BEEN GOING ON?
1)The Long Walk organisation and website has been giving details of the symbolic 3.3km 2005 walk around Princes Park – $15 per single person – inviting people to walk, to be sponsors and to run local walks all round Australia.
2)All funds raised have gone to the Sir Douglas Nicholls Fellowship for Indigenous Leadership.
3)The ANZ Bank was the Principal Partner in line with its ‘Money Matters’ project that aims to ‘build the money management skills and confidence of indigenous people and their families, whilst at the same time establishing a stronger savings culture in indigenous communities’.
4)More than a 1000 Melbourne school students joined Michael on their own Long Walk around Melbourne’s Botanical Gardens’ Tan a week before the official event.
5)5000 people registered before the event but an estimated 9000 were there at Princes Park, Carlton.
6)A ‘Long walker’ told me the atmosphere was wonderful and that she walked beside an older Aboriginal woman who had walked from Geelong to Melbourne to participate.
7)Michael says since his walk last year hundreds of people have told him they wished they had been able to join him.
8)Goulburn Valley elder Paul Briggs has said it was the “lack of connectedness between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians that hurt, but also held the nation back from realising its full potential” and that “we could take the purpose of the Long Walk back to our homes and our workplaces and make things happen”.
9)ENIAR (European Network for Indigenous Australians) ran a Long Walk in London, publicising it on their website www.eniar.org.