AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT) congratulates the Northern Territory’s Michael Long on being a deserved finalist in the 2019 Australian of the Year Award, which was announced at a function held in Canberra tonight.
The top honour went to dual winners Craig Challen SC OAM and Dr Richard Harris SC OAM who were pivotal in rescuing 12 boys and their coach from flooded Thailand caves, but Long was duly recognised. Particularly for the way he uses his voice and profile to harness the power of Australian Football to create more opportunities for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth.
Long, 49, began his football career at Northern Territory Football League club St Mary’s and went on to play 190 games for the Essendon Football Club where he won two premierships and was the Norm Smith Medallist in 1993. He was also the first Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander player to captain an AFL side. He was named in the Essendon Team of the Century, the AFL Indigenous Team of the Century, a member of the Australian Football Hall of Fame, AFLNT Hall of Fame and an inductee into the AFLNT Team of the Century.
Long’s selection as a finalist in the Australian of the Year Award acknowledged the work of the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre (MLLLC), managed by AFL Northern Territory (AFLNT), which provides education and football programs for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students from communities all across the Northern Territory. These programs help unlock the potential in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander youth and enrich lives while ensuring participants receive the same opportunities as all Australians.
More than 800 children have benefited from the community-based education and leadership programs since the state-of-the-art MLLLC officially opened in Darwin in 2015. MLLLC education programs recognise the significant role football plays in each student’s life and has a distinct AFL-themed curriculum with a focus well beyond sport. The newly-established Michael Long Foundation (MLF) will support the MLLLC program and the nine remote development managers at AFLNT who work in the NT communities to deliver the football programs and community engagement on a daily basis.
You can visit the new Michael Long Foundation website here to learn more about the foundation and the MLLLC.
AFLNT CEO Stu Totham said the whole organisation was thrilled that ‘Longy’ had been a finalist in this year’s awards.
“Even without the win, this is fantastic recognition for Michael and his family. Longy has been passionate about using football to achieve better education and life outcomes for Indigenous people for many years and for him to receive national recognition 14 years after completing The Long Walk is a testament to the dedication and commitment he has shown.
“His contribution to the game from a social impact perspective is significant and has spread far and wide, in not just the Northern Territory but the entire country. Even though his football career finished almost two decades ago, he is still acknowledged and seen by many as a hero.
“We are excited to know that through the Michael Long Learning and Leadership Centre Longy’s hard work will have a positive impact for generations to come,” Totham said.
AFLNT sends heartfelt congratulations to NT couple Kate and Tick Everett, the parents of Amy ‘Dolly’ Everett on being awarded Australia’s Local Hero Award for their work in founding Dolly’s Dream to create positive change when it comes to childhood bullying.
We also acknowledge the very talented Yolngu man, Danziel Baker (Baker Boy) from East Arnhem on winning Young Australian of the Year, acknowledged for using his music to inspire Indigenous youth to embrace their culture and take up leadership positions.
AFLNT also applauds good friend, Charlie King OAM on his nomination for senior Australian of the Year. His dedication as human rights campaigner, mainly through his work with AFLNT charity partner, the NO MORE Campaign, is changing the face of our game and our community, and his work in doing that cannot be overstated.