• University student, Coen Tate has walked over five million steps for Aboriginal Health.
A Macquarie University student has walked more than 3000 kilometres from Sydney to Uluru to raise money for Aboriginal health, a topic up for public discussion on Twitter this Thursday.
Natalie Ahmat

28 Apr 2014 - 4:53 PM  UPDATED 29 Apr 2014 - 8:09 PM

Barkindji man Coen Tate has walked over five million steps in the past three months on a journey through central Australia.

"Originally, the idea was for a mate and I to kind of go bush for a while, and refresh and clear our minds, and along the way we decided to make it a fundraiser for Aboriginal health," Mr Tate said.

All money raised will be divided between the National Aboriginal Community Controlled Health Organisation and Oxfam's Close the Gap campaign.

But Mr Coen said the chance to raise awareness about Indigenous Australia was just as important.

"Living in Sydney I find - at least with the people I know - what they know about Aboriginal people and Aboriginal issues is very much framed or very much formed by what they see in the media or the little bit that they learned in school, so they don't really know what's really going on out there," he said.  

"I kind of wanted to address that, in an over-the-top way. I think it's been effective in some ways, I've seen it in some of my friends, and I'd like to think I've made an impact along the way with people I've met."

After leaving Sydney in December last year, Mr Coen travelled through Wiradjuri country to Broken Hill, through the Flinders Ranges and the Oodnadatta Track before finally arriving at Uluru in March.

He is currently staying in the Red Centre, where he's working at the Mutitjulu community store to raise funds for his journey back to Sydney in September.

“The walk here, I was carrying a backpack," he said.

"The walk back, I'm planning on hopefully having a trolley, which will do wonders for my body, I'm sure, and just make it a lot easier in that I'll be able to carry a lot more water, carry more food."

Similarly, a national day of action on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health will take place online this week.

A national Indigenous health conversation will be held on Twitter this Thursday ahead of next month's federal budget.

James Cook University academic Dr Lynore Geia is leading the Twitter conversation which will give people the chance to tweet about Indigenous health issues, whether they are patients, health workers or researchers.

“I thought about the idea a few months ago, because Indigenous health in Australia has always been a really controversial issue for us and just wanted to get the national dialogue happening," Dr Geia said.

Dr Geia wants issues surrounding the Federal Intervention, remote community infrastructure and the health of our elders discussed.

“I just want to encourage people to follow us on Twitter, #IHMayDay, and listen in and get informed as well, allow us, our voices to be an educative voice for mainstream Australia. That's the only way we're going to build bridges and go forward as a nation,” she said.

By using the hashtag '#IHMayDay' Dr Geia hopes her online campaign will start the conversation that ends racism.

"I think they're needs to be responsibility, particularly in a country like Australia, for people to be aware of what they're saying and racial vilification does affect social and emotional mental health," she said.

Submissions into the Federal Governments proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act will close on Wednesday.


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