NACCHO Aboriginal Health and Justice : Clintons walking journey for hope and justice

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The road to justice is a long one fraught with difficulties and obstacles that only the most determined and committed can overcome to achieve the justice, human rights and respect deserved.

But he needs the support and help of Australians, in particular, Indigenous Australians, to reinforce this message to the federal government and invite positive action to help, not hurt, our nation’s First Peoples.

Deep within Clinton Pryor’s heart lies an overwhelming commitment to justice, hope and peace in his country for the First Nation Peoples.”

Wajuk man Clinton Pryor has embarked on a Walk For Justice across Australia to discuss the impacts government decisions are having on local indigenous communities in Western Australia.

NACCHO calls on all its members to assist Clinton on his journey to Canberra

Anyone interested in supporting Clinton Pryor’s Walk for Justice can visit his Facebook page , Twitter profile or website

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Article page 20 NACCHO Aboriginal Health Newspaper out Wednesday 16 November , 24 Page lift out Koori Mail : or download

naccho-newspaper-nov-2016 PDF file size 9 MB

Written by Emma Meconi

But he needs the support and help of Australians, in particular, Indigenous Australians, to reinforce this message to the federal government and invite positive action to help, not hurt, our nation’s First Peoples.

“The government is going to close communities and I need your help to make a stand against the government,” he said on his website.

“As a young indigenous man and my people, it is our duty to look after the planet.

“Our elders fought so hard to get this community built. That community is very important to us.”

Mr Pryor does not want to see his community shut down because of funding cuts to vital services.

He is embarking on this walk so he can raise awareness nationwide and let the Prime Minister know closing communities is not right.

He wants to save his people from losing their home and country.

He began his journey in Perth in September this year and will complete it in Canberra in May next year.

He will travel thousands of kilometres on foot to deliver his very important message directly to the Prime Minister.

His message is one of hope and justice for Aboriginal Australia and it all began with a life changing moment in Mr Pryor’s life when he was a teenager.

“The hardest part of my life [was] when my father passed away when I was 16 years old. It was the day my life changed forever.

“I put my hand on his head and promised him three things and that was to help my people, look after my family and keep our people’s culture alive,” he explained.

Pryor is from the Mulan community in the east Kimberley region in far North-Eastern Western Australia.

His family moved to Perth when he was seven and this is where he grew up and he now still lives in Perth, in the suburb of Rivervale.

Up until his father’s passing, Mr Pryor had enjoyed a fairly fulfilling high school journey.

He said that the best part of his life was when he was in high school and played footy, had a girlfriend and a job and spent his weekends surfing at the beach.

Like most young men, he dreams of a life where he will be a Dad and have his own family and fulfil his childhood dream of making a change in the world.

But the rhythm of life with its constant changes brings moments of light and darkness, happiness and sadness, hope and despair, harmony and challenges.

Pryor experienced a period of homelessness not long after his father passed away.

“I lost my job, my girlfriend left me and I left home to live on the street for two years before I got myself together and back on track again because I knew if I didn’t move on with my life and not believe in myself I was not going nowhere with life,” he said on his website.

Pryor said the disconnection from others and not having a home was the hardest part of being homeless.

“The hardest thing when I was homeless was not having no money, no home and no-one caring for me or asking me how I being. It was like no-one cared about me and it feels like I was alone.”

Connection to country and growing up in a remote community reinforces why this walk is so vital.

“Community life is very important because it keeps my people out of town or out of the city because in town and in the city there is drugs, alcohol and violence.”

He said that community life is controlled by the elders who lead in a traditional way in accordance with their own law and this law which they have followed for 60,000 years keeps them calm and harmonised.

He strongly believes in his people’s spirituality and feels very connected to living life around him and the Great Spirit in the air, everywhere.

“I can tell what is right and what is not right. It is a sense in my heart that I can tell something is good or something is bad and tell by the animal around me if it is going to be a great day or not.”

He gains his strength from this force in the land around him and in return he loves and cares for the land, looks after her and protects her.

He stated that one threat to this harmony with country and land was mining companies because of the damage caused to the land wounds the culture and heart of indigenous people and damages their spiritual home.

“My people, we believe that when we die we come back and be a part of the tree, animal, rock, river, the air and the land itself. That is why I am very connected to the land because I know that those who pass on before me are always with me and around me. The great energy of life.”

He does not want to see what he cares most about in this world, his family, friends and culture, destroyed by corporate greed.

Similarly, he does not want to see the forced closure of remote communities and the resulting homelessness because of government spending cuts.

He said he had been involved in protests and rallies and was not prepared to give up on the belief that together he will win the fight for First Nation people of the land we all stand on.

“The most things I worry about is seeing a lot of my people living homeless, watching the land being destroyed and my culture dying out.”

This was a critical aspect of this walk because closing a community is not just taking people away from their home and leading to homelessness and feeling lost, it is also disconnecting them from their spiritual home and their identity.

“If community are closing down the sacred site, cave art and the song lines are under threat and can be lost forever without the young generation knowing their culture and about their people and how we live on the land,” Pryor said.

He wants to give his people hope and make sure they do not give up and that they keep fighting no matter what happens.

His message to the Prime Minister will be to ask the government to give the elders full control of their communities without interference by government.

More broadly, Pryor wants to emphasise the importance of a treaty in moving forward in an independent, harmonious and accepting way so Indigenous Australians can live the way they always have.

By undertaking this walk, Pryor will also be honouring the past, which is an important element in the Indigenous ritual where young men go walkabout to learn survival skills and spiritual awakening.

Pryor will have a lot of time for reflection and contemplation about the significance this walk will hold for indigenous Australians and also our nation as a whole and how things should change for the better.

“This walk is about bringing people from different cultures back together and showing that if there is any hope for this country we must work together.”

Songlines form the essence of spirituality and connection to land in indigenous culture and as Mr Pryor travels across Australia he will take some roads that follow songlines and some that don’t.

But all the while he wants to learn about his people and culture and what is happening to them now.

His aim is to “know the truth about how my people are living and understand the different law and dreamtime story.”

He said that something needs to be done and he hopes to meet and speak with many people along the way and create a force for good across the nation that he hopes the Prime Minster will be interested in hearing about.

He has a large social network of family, friends, his people and elders who are all supporting him and have encouraged him to do what he believes in.

He is not sure what he will say to the Prime Minister specifically but local elders have told him he will know what to say after he has done his walk.

The experience of walking over this vast land should serve to empower, embolden and strengthen Mr Pryor as he gets closer to achieving his goal.

Deep within Clinton Pryor’s heart lies an overwhelming commitment to justice, hope and peace in his country for the First Nation Peoples.

This commitment is ignited by a spiritual connection to country and culture that commands the nation’s respect, acceptance, appreciation, understanding and encouragement.

Time will tell if the Prime Minister shares an interest and affinity with the peaceful continuation of one of our nation and planet’s oldest and enriching cultures and civilisation.

The Prime Minister, increasingly seen as representing the big end of town and disconnected from the realities confronted by Indigenous Australians, did not respond to requests for comment on Mr Pryor’s Walk for Justice.

Anyone interested in supporting Clinton Pryor’s Walk for Justice can visit his Facebook page and Twitter profile.

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