Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

The Long Walk 2012 with Michael Long

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Jenny Macklin, and the Minister for Sport, Senator Kate Lundy, today congratulated Michael Long for his leadership and vision in raising awareness of Indigenous Australians.

In 2004, Michael Long set out on foot from Melbourne to Canberra to meet the then Prime Minister and get the lives of Indigenous Australians back on the national agenda.

The Long Walk and Dreamtime at the G are now annual events which celebrate the wonderful contribution that Indigenous people make to this country, both on and off the field.

“Each year, the number of people that participate in the Long Walk continues to grow, demonstrating the desire of Australians to work together to tackle Indigenous disadvantage,” Ms Macklin said.

Participating in the Long Walk today, Senator Lundy, praised the AFL for their work with Indigenous children.

“The AFL is a strong supporter of Indigenous participation programs, recognising that football is an incredibly powerful tool to inspire and motivate,” Senator Lundy said.

“Indigenous stars such as Lance Franklin, Adam Goodes, Lewis Jetta and Eddie Betts are some of the best players in the game and are important role models in the community.

“The AFL has nurtured an amazing pool of Indigenous football talent and despite representing just 2 per cent of our population Indigenous Australians make up 11 per cent of today’s AFL playing lists.

“Today’s Long Walk is a great chance for all Australians to pay tribute to the achievements of Indigenous people and recognise their contribution to our nation today.”

Ms Macklin said Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people hold a very special place in our nation.

That’s why the Australian Government is building momentum for constitutional recognition of our first peoples.

“The Australian Government is committed to building public awareness and community support for constitutional recognition of Indigenous Australians,” Ms Macklin said.

“We have provided $10 million to continue to build this momentum for change because we know the support of the majority of Australians will be crucial for a successful referendum.”

The funding is helping Reconciliation Australia support community groups and activities to give Australians the opportunity to learn more about constitutional recognition.