CQ man's 7000km Message Stick Walk for Indigenous awareness
DESPITE walking 50kms alone every day for five months come tomorrow, Alwyn Doolan has never felt more connected to his land, his culture and his ancestors.
Through mentally-trying long stretches of nothingness and moments of self-doubt and loneliness, Mr Doolan, 28, has found a part of him he's "always been looking for".
But ahead of him, still lies a monumental task. He is walking from Bamaga, Cape York to Canberra's Parliament House.
His goal? To close the gap and to be a voice for not just his community, but communities across the country.
Yesterday morning, the Woorabinda man walked into Rockhampton's Dreamtime Cultural Centre, and was greeted with the embraces of his family and friends.
The former St Brendan's College student, began his monumental trek, Message Stick Walk, to tackle the identity crisis present amongst so many Indigenous communities.
"The government policies aren't working in our communities for sustainability," he said.
"I wanted to inspire, connect, engage with them and raise that awareness of reconciliation... with both sides working together.
"I have messages from each community I visit that I will take to Canberra. I'll submit them with my notice to the Australian Government and Cabinet on how we can infrastructure a better form of system such as having a First Nation person elected by us that is a representative of an Indigenous Affairs Minister."
For Mr Doolan, the appointment of a minister selected by the Indigenous community, is paramount to addressing community's needs.
"They visit our communities probably once a year and it's different were you go depending on the environment and people," he said.
"We only make three per cent of the population and the regular annual reports such as Closing the Gap speak for themselves... our statistics are lower and lower.
"Perhaps having that kind of leader from our culture who comes from a community, has experience and a mindset on what works best for us and how we adapt to mainstream society, will give that sense of awareness... and build a foundation for sustainability in our communities."
Another prominent element of Mr Doolan's re-negotiation will surround education.
"There's a misunderstanding and inconsiderate compassion for our people, especially through the education system," he said.
"There's kind of a fairytale story... but that's not the reality of the socio-economics we're still facing today."
Despite a growing push for social conscience, there are still those who are insensitive to the inequality and ancestral loss the Indigenous community faces.
"I've had run-ins with people on the way who still have that mindset of 'get over it'," Mr Doolan said.
"If there was a curriculum in education, as brutal as the history is, as long as that truth is taught without the white-guilt and without our people having that shame of wanting to share our culture.
"They could grow up knowing and sourcing and have more of an understanding and compassion to who we are and not just these stereotypes, perceptions and judgements."
Mr Doolan expects to arrive in Canberra in April 2019, however his journey isn't over there.
With his compassion and the "importance of humanity" pushing him on, he will make another walk to Uluru for the First Nation's conference.
Mr Doolan has fully immersed himself in the experience, living off army rations and canned goods, carrying his own pack with 30 litres of water, and camping in the bush.
He's gone through three pairs of shoes and lost 12kg already.
"There are definitely days that are better than others but I've come to know my body and who I am," he said.
"I listen to my surroundings and take in the moment rather than the whole scope and how far I have to go."
Mr Doolan hopes to complete a certificate in youth work and open a not-for-profit youth centre in Woorabinda.
The treaty re-negotiation: https://www.change.org/p/malcolm-turnbull-treaty-re-negotiation
Donate to help fund Mr Doolan's journey. He has already received donations for new shoes, backpack and tent through his travels: https://au.gofundme.com/mswalk4us
Keep up to date with his journey: https://www.facebook.com/mswalk4us/