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Telstra Foundation announces support for The Long Walk


The Long Walk Trust today launched its new national ‘Get The Conversation Started’ schools program, aimed at generating conversation and discussion in schools about Indigenous culture and issues affecting Indigenous communities.

The program, to be rolled out nationally over the next three years, has been funded by the Telstra Foundation – and will be delivered to primary and secondary students across Australia in Victoria, the Northern Territory, South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.

Launched by The Long Walk’s patron, Michael Long, the program was first piloted in 2005, when Long and other Indigenous sports people and elders began visiting schools to answer questions about what motivated Long to walk to Canberra in 2004.

“I never could have imagined how the original walk would evolve to where we now have a Long Walk Trust which has established significant partnerships and supports many important programs – including this new one with the Telstra Foundation.

“When I, and my fellow walkers, headed off from Melbourne to Canberra, we wanted to raise awareness about the injustices facing Indigenous people in Australia. We wanted to ask the then Prime Minister and other Australians - ‘where is the love’. We were just at the beginning of something – and now we are launching a national schools program. It is an emotional moment – and one that I am very proud of,” Long said.

Telstra Foundation Manager, Georgia Symmons, said that by supporting the ‘Get the Conversation Started’ program the Telstra Foundation hoped to see the same passion and commitment for our nation that Michael displayed in his Long Walk, conveyed to today’s youth.

“Michael Long’s commitment to breaking down barriers between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australia is inspirational.

“The ‘Get the Conversation Started’ program has three key elements that are wholeheartedly supported by the Telstra Foundation; empowering children through education, instilling pride in Indigenous children for their culture and supporting a great leader who is making positive changes within their community.

“We are proud to be supporting ‘Get the Conversation Started’, and helping to make Michael’s vision a reality,” said Symmons.

The annual Long Walk event will be held this Saturday, May 22, from 4.00pm, at Federation Square, Melbourne. Following celebrations and activities, AFL champion and patron of The Long Walk Foundation, Michael Long, together with Indigenous leaders and sporting legends, will lead walkers from Federation Square to the MCG, for the Dreamtime at the ‘G annual match between Essendon and Richmond (part of the AFL’s National Indigenous Round).

Visit: The Long Walk website for all information and Walk details:

BACKGROUND To Get The Conversation Started:
The Get the Conversation Started draws on the historical event of The Long Walk to introduce Indigenous Studies to school- aged Australian children.

The program has grown organically out of requests from schools in 2005 for Michael Long to speak to students about the historic 2004 walk to Canberra.

Funding was sought to establish the curriculum materials, build the pool of facilitators and for the upgraded program to be rolled out nationally for broader reach to up to 90 more schools and 8,000 more students. The program will be rolled out over three years to be piloted in Victoria and Northern Territory in 2010, to Western Australia and South Australia in 2011 and further to New South Wales and Queensland in 2012,” Ms Kruger said.

The program is being funded by the Telstra Foundation

The Long Walk has formed a partnership with The Koorie Heritage (KHT) to deliver the project in Victoria in 2010.

The Koorie Heritage Trust is a not for profit Aboriginal community organisation that aims ‘to protect, preserve and promote the living culture of Indigenous people from the south-east of Australia’. The Trust also aims ‘to bridge the cultural gap between Koories and the wider community’.

Interstate Partners will appoint Coordinators in their respective states to be supported by their Education Program teams.

The model of engaging with a local (preferably Indigenous) community partner with existing education networks and experience will be replicated to provide program delivery in other states. Local organisations will need to demonstrate their capacity to deliver programs prior to being chosen as a partner organisation.

The national roll out will commence in Victoria then the Northern Territory, given The Long Walk’s connections with NT communities through Patron Michael Long, the development of other awareness activities in the region such as a Darwin Long Walk and a Darwin Women’s Luncheon. The location also has a high concentration of original walkers who will be invited to train as facilitators. Various NT organisations are interested in partnering on this roll out and we are currently taking those discussions further with AFL NT.

The national roll out of Get the Conversation’s is timely considering the development of AFL teams in Queensland and New South Wales in 2012, The Long Walk’s links through its Ambassadors such as Kevin Sheedy, and the AFL’s Indigenous schools resource.

Students in secondary schools aged 12 – 18 years will benefit from this program with activities adapted to suit upper primary students (aged 10-12 years). While we will encourage schools with Indigenous students to participate, the program is aimed at being inclusive of all Australian school students.


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