• Clinton Pryor gives the thumbs up after meeting Merredin elders and brothers Reginald and Mick Hayden here with his support crew. (Ryan Emery)Source: Ryan Emery
Clinton Pryor plans to walk across Australia to Parliament House to meet Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, hoping his act of peace can help improve the lives of Indigenous Australians.
By
Ryan Emery

Source:
SBS World News
27 Sep 2016 - 5:57 PM  UPDATED 27 Sep 2016 - 6:04 PM

Clinton Pryor is on a mission. He is determined to walk from Perth, through the nation's red centre, to Parliament House in Canberra.

He is calling it a ‘Walk for Justice’. Along the way, he has been collecting messages for the Prime Minister from Indigenous elders across the country.

Pryor told SBS: "What I see these days… I see a lot of my people are in pain, and they are hurt, and they are frustrated, and we've been asking for a very long time to start listening to us, and the government keeps ignoring and ignoring. And this is the time now. The government must sit down and listen to us and give our people what they want. So that's why I'm doing this big massive walk to make the government listen now and start understanding."

Clinton Pryor has a long list of items to discuss. They include incarceration levels, funding for Aboriginal communities, levels of suicide, destruction of sacred areas, and so on. His file will undoubtedly grow as he meets with elders on his travels.

But at the heart of his plea is a fair go for the nation's First Peoples. Pryor says he believes reaching a treaty is the way to reach reconciliation, rather than constitutional recognition.

"The government must listen and give our elders and community leaders and our people a treaty. If they don't give us our treaty, then we're just going to be going around in circles and keep going around in circles and we're not going nowhere," Pryor explains.

Pryor’s Walk for Justice is already creating waves. He has a massive following on social media and has already attracted the attention of former Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd.

Mr Rudd rang the 26-year-old while he was in Merredin to say he wanted to meet him when he reached Uluru.

"He was really amazed by a young man like me doing this big walk across the country, and he supports me all the way, because he thinks that this here, this Walk for Justice, will close the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous," says Pryor.

One of the Elders Clinton Pryor met in Merredin was Reginald Hayden, who believes reconciliation is about respect.

"(The) only time that you get credit for anything that I've seen, through Aboriginal people, is when you play sports. That's the only time the credit comes to you. Other than that, workwise, I worked all my life until I retired, yet they still put Aboriginal people down. They class them all as the same. It's not the point. You could say that about a hell of a lot of white people, too. They live on the dole, they surf and whatever else, but they don't get judged," Hayden says.  

But the 66-year-old is sceptical about a treaty.

"Well, what I've heard about the treaty is that, even with the Maoris, it doesn't work as good as what they thought it was. So, take a good look at that, and we'll think, 'Is it worth it? Or do you go for sovereignty?' Look at the Canadians. They got a treaty, and that's pretty much the same attitude with them as the Maoris," Hayden says.

Pryor says the support for the walk and the desire to push Aboriginal affairs to the top of the agenda is steadily growing as he inches towards Canberra.

The walk will take him about seven months. During that time, he will grow his beard and hair to look like his ancestors. He plans to walk into Parliament House wearing body paint and traditional clothes and hopes Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull will be waiting for him.