Former Essendon AFL champion Michael Long has been named Northern Territorian of the Year in recognition of his work as an indigenous community leader.
Darwin-born Long has been described as a football icon who made a stand against racism during his career, and an advocate for reconciliation.
The Michael Long Learning and Leadership centre in Darwin provides accommodation, education, football and other sporting and corporate facilities.
The centre aims to give young indigenous Territorians the same opportunities as their non-indigenous peers.
Long’s selection also recognised The Long Walk Foundation charity’s work to increase awareness of indigenous culture and history.
The Long Walk started in 2004 when Long trekked 650km from his home in Melbourne to Parliament House in Canberra to meet with former prime minister John Howard to get indigenous issues on the national agenda.
In his AFL career, Long played 190 games for Essendon, winning two premierships and the Norm Smith Medal in 1993.
In other awards announced in Darwin on Wednesday, anti-bullying advocates Kate and Tick Everett from Katherine were named the Northern Territory’s local heroes for 2019.
The couple started the Dolly’s Dream foundation to create positive change and a legacy for their daughter Amy “Dolly” Everett who took her own life in January 2018 after being bullied.
Rapper and dancer Danzal Baker was named the Northern Territory’s young Australian of the year and human rights campaigner Charlie King was named its senior Australian of the year.
All the winners will now represent the NT in the national awards to be presented early next year.