Clinton Pryor has just walked nearly 6,000 kms from Perth to Canberra across 6 states, campaigning for change over the treatment of Indigenous people in Australia
Adventure Uncovered recently caught up with Clinton’s team in Australia, discovering how his journey has influenced and impacted himself and those around him.
Clinton calls himself an ordinary, 27-year old Wajuk, Balardung, Kija and a Yulparitja man from the West of Australia. His amazing journey across Australia began almost a year ago when he left Matargarup on September 8, 2016, to raise awareness about Indigenous rights in Australia, a 229-year old issue.
In reality, however, Clinton is anything but ordinary, he’s a caring, proud and determined person. From the humblest of beginnings, Clinton’s journey is the epitome of Lao Tzu’s ‘journey of a 1,000 miles beginning with one step’ quote, his first and last step and everything in between began in Arndale, Western Australia eleven years ago, when he put his hand on his passing fathers head and promised him he would look after the community. As an active member of that community his father was sorely missed and at only 16, Clinton’s struggle began – he lost his job, girlfriend and became homeless and lonely.
'In reality, however, Clinton is anything but ordinary, he’s a caring, proud and determined person.'
Fast forward to the present and after the removal of federal funding inflicted by Tony Abbott’s government (2013-15), and threat to close 200+ remote WA Aboriginal communities by previous WA Premier Colin Barnett (2008-17), he’s living up to more than his promise to his father, he’s amplifying his message nationally and to the world: “I want to make a difference, do something with my life and stand up for something I believe in,” he says.
The perpetual inequality, community helplessness and the recent culmination in a crisis of Indigenous Australian homelessness led to the motivation behind the walk for justice, and the aim to seek an audience with the Prime Minister and address the many injustices against the First Nation people and their land. Advocacy groups and activists have toiled hard over the years, but Clinton decided enough was enough and real change had to come from an alternative way for a voice that would be heard, to make a difference and change people’s perceptions and uncover the reality about Indigenous rights in Australia – through the power of an adventure never seen before – a huge walk where a lot of thinking and on the ground, first-hand exploration had to be done.
Mentally and physically taxing on his mind and body, Clinton is exhausted from walking. Knee brace permanently secured to one leg, his approach during his once in a lifetime trip has been to take it day by day, discovering the truth about how his people are really living, following songlines, gathering stories and opinions from visiting Aboriginal communities along the way – a slow, purposeful adventure that doesn’t have all the answers just yet.
They will hopefully come when a serious conversation can start in Canberra, where Indigenous-led and owned solutions will be proposed and clearly laid out in front of the government. Clinton says, “We’re going to get all those politicians to come out of Parliament and to come out to the Tent Embassy and hear the truth and hear what we all have to say. It’s about time they came out to listen to the elders and to Aboriginal people. I also plan to speak with the Governor General and let him know it’s time to get serious about Treaty. Otherwise, I’ll have to go see the Queen herself in Buckingham Palace.”
To improve Indigenous conditions and quash the resentment built hitherto beyond repair in some places, Clinton will be pushing for two key fundamental changes this week in Canberra:
1. Hand back decision-making powers to the elders, so communities can live and thrive without unhelpful interference from the Government.
2. The government to recognise the sovereignty of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, and begin negotiating sovereign treaties which help to secure communities and culture for the future.
One of the main highlights of the journey crossing through the desert was being handed a piece of Uluru by traditional elder Reggie Uluru, a highly symbolic and emphatic moment for Clinton, and one that will remain with him forever. The piece of rock was a gift to help give strength, wisdom, and courage to continue the walk.
Clinton said “Reggie Uluru healed my spirit, making me strong like a warrior. I was so proud to have been gifted with a piece of Uluru from elder Reggie Uluru — the traditional owner of Uluru whose family were the original custodians and guardians of Uluru.”
Such a precious moment during his adventure cannot be replicated in any adventure world record, city or community; if anything was to motivate Clinton during the exhausting early stages of the trip across the desert and give him something to hold onto, it was that moment.
'One of the main highlights of the journey crossing through the desert was being handed a piece of Uluru by traditional elder Reggie Uluru.'
What’s extraordinary about Clinton (and echoing another great, yet metaphoric ‘walk to freedom’), is he not only wants to give his people hope and inspire them to never give up and keep fighting, but also to bring together people from different cultures in the country and call on them to put their differences aside and build a better future – ‘the past is the past’ he says. ‘Move forward.’
Reminding us of formidable civil rights movements of the past, Clinton is determined not to let Aboriginal land and more homes be destroyed, nor allow his people’s culture to die after the elders fought so hard to build and maintain their communities. It’s simply not right and that’s why he’s completed this epic, historic and honourable walk.
To support Clinton across social media or make a donation, go to:
Donate here: www.gofundme.com/clintonswalk
Twitter: https://twitter.com/clintonswalk (#ClintonsWalk and #TreatyNOW)