BACK in November 2004, the first walk by Michael Long, the champion Essendon footballer, was indeed a ‘long walk’.
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 Prime Minister John Howard to discuss his concerns… even if he had to walk all the way to Canberra, 650 kilometres away, to do it.
The aim of the walk was to get a meeting with the Prime Minister and after 10 days of intense media scrutiny of the walk, John Howard eventually granted Long a meeting and he called a halt to the walk, having completed about 325km of the planned 650km walk.
That’s how the ‘Long Walk’ started.
Ten years on, the walk for recognition takes various forms, the best known being the ‘Long Walk to the G’ for the Dreamtime match between Essendon and Richmond, with as many as 15,000 people participating.
Last Sunday, the Melbourne Long Walk organisers lent their name to the short walk from the Ramahyuck centre in Watt Street to the Wonthaggi Recreation Reserve but so successful was it that it could become a regular feature of NAIDOC Week and the indigenous round locally.