Media Release by The Hon Jenny Macklin MP

Kicking goals for reconciliation

The Minister for Indigenous Affairs Jenny Macklin, and the Minister for Sport and Indigenous Employment and Economic Development, Mark Arbib, today participated in the Long Walk and attended Dreamtime at the G to celebrate Indigenous Australia’s contribution to AFL.

Walking in the Long Walk today, Ms Macklin said that all Australians working together can move towards reconciliation and break down Indigenous barriers.

“In 2004 Michael Long started the Long Walk to get the lives of Indigenous Australians back on the national agenda and from the size of the crowd participating today, he has succeeded,” Ms Macklin said.

“The Long Walk and Dreamtime at the G are fantastic opportunities to celebrate the contributions of Indigenous Australians to not just football, but Australia.”

Tonight’s celebration acknowledges Richmond becoming the second AFL club to launch a Reconciliation Action Plan sending a powerful message about strengthening and expanding partnerships with Indigenous Australians.

“I congratulate the Richmond Football Club for recognising the important role they can play in promoting and developing reconciliation,” Ms Macklin said.

“This plan demonstrates that Richmond is determined to be a leader in building relationships between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians.”

Senator Arbib said the Gillard Government and the AFL were working closely together to close the gap on Indigenous disadvantage through the Learn. Earn. Legend! program and the Indigenous Sport and Recreation Plan.

“Past and present AFL Indigenous player are fantastic role models to young Indigenous Australians,” Senator Arbib said.

“We know the best thing all kids can do is get a good education. We know the more education they have, whether that is school, TAFE, an apprenticeship or tertiary studies, the more likely they are to get a good job.”

Senator Arbib said 112 children from five Victorian Koori Kids Auskick centres would have the opportunity to emulate their idols as they participated in the halftime NAB Auskick program on the MCG.

“With the support of the Gillard Government’s Indigenous Sport and Recreation plan kids from all over Victoria are able to participate in Auskick,” Senator Arbib said.

“Having the opportunity to participate in a wide range of sporting and recreational activities no matter where you live is a priority of the Australian Government.

“The children playing tonight may well be future AFL superstars and role models for another generation of Indigenous Australians.”

Ms Macklin said the AFL Indigenous Round was a great celebration of Indigenous Australians and the huge role they have played in making AFL the great game it is.

“The off-field work of many of the past and present AFL Indigenous players goes unnoticed and it is fantastic that the AFL has dedicated a round to celebrating their achievements,” Ms Macklin said.