Updated: Jun 18, 2021
Due to COVID restrictions in Victoria, this year’s AFL Dreamtime game between Essendon and Richmond was moved from the MCG to Whadjuk Perth Stadium.
The Long Walk, an annual pre-game event inspired by the work of former AFL star Michael Long, took place between the WACA and the stadium with around 6,000 people attending.
It featured a ceremony and presentation at the WACA, including Welcomes to Country, and a speech by WA Premier Mark McGowan.
The Premier spoke about the history of The Long Walk, detailing Michael Long’s walk from Melbourne to Canberra in 2004 where Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people began walking together in support of Aboriginal culture.
“It is important that we not only march but that we also take action,” the Premier said. “And in action, you’ve always got to think about things that make a difference. Whether it’s native title, Aboriginal heritage, whether it’s health services, employment, training, making sure that people - particularly in remote areas - have appropriate housing - these are all things that we all need to work together on - all of us as Australians - governments, business, community, people.
“And that’s what Michael’s actually arguing for. Not only do we unite and work together, but that we actually take action,” the Premier said.
The march walked across Matagarup Bridge and ended at the statue of AFL star Nicky Winmar outside the stadium.
“I remember that day when he [Nicky Winmar] lifted his footy jumper and he pointed to his skin, and he said ‘I’m black and I’m proud’,” the Premier said. “And I think we’ve come a long way since then, but what Nicky said and what he demonstrated on that occasion is that we always need to be vigilant, and we always need to move forward, because those sorts of things should never happen again.”
The Premier walking between Aunty Liz Hayden and Michael Long together with around 6,000 others. Pic courtesy ABC NEWS: Emma Wynne
Later, on his Facebook page, the Premier said: “The Long Walk is one of the most remarkable and powerful events I have been a part of. It was truly an honour to walk alongside so many remarkable Western Australians and people from across the country representing Indigenous Australians from so many nations.”