This week, Lisa Alcock and I met with Michael Long from the Long Walk Foundation.
We were proud to meet with Michael to discuss his journey, the origins of the Long Walk and how the Union can continue to support such a worthy cause.
If you’ve never heard of the Long Walk, it is a story of how something amazing can be created out of a tragic event.
Michael Long is one of the most recognisable Aboriginal figures in AFL football. He has always championed the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander cause within the AFL. And in 1995, Michael made a stand against racial abuse, following an on-field incident with another player, asserting that racism had no place in sport.
After returning home from yet another Aboriginal funeral, Michael decided that something needed to be done about the plight of his people. He took it upon himself to get Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander issues back on the national agenda and resolved to meet with then Prime Minister John Howard to discuss his concerns, even if he meant walking all the way to Canberra to do it.
And on 21 November 2004 Michael embarked an historic trek, walking from his home in the suburbs of Melbourne all the way to Parliament House in Canberra; more than 650 kilometres away.
Along the way Michael was joined on by Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal supporters from across Australia.
Michael was joined by local people who came out as they walked through the Victorian countryside: offered encouragement, support and assistance.
Seeing both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people rallying together, Michael’s Long Walk became a mission of hope. What started with pain has become something extremely positive and a sign that Australians from all walks of life are looking for a way to express their support for Aboriginal culture.
We’re proud to be supporting the Long Walk as a Union, with HSU National making a $10,000 contribution towards the foundation. It also reminds us of the ongoing struggle Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to face and why this year it is so vital for Australia to vote Yes to constitutional recognition and a voice to Parliament.
If members are interested in showing support at the launch of the Long Walk you can join them on 27 August at 10:30am at Melbourne Town Hall.
As the Long Walk goes through regional and rural Victoria, we will let members know and strongly urge you to go out and greet them; show them your support and maybe even walk with them to hear their stories and reasons for joining the walk.
Taking action is something the Union does every day, and unlike Michael Long, we don’t need to take a Long Walk to get our issues back on the agenda, but we spend a great deal of time pursuing Health Services over compliance with our Agreements.