By Tony Thomas, Rotary Club of Central Melbourne
Rotary clubs from Melbourne to Canberra backed the 703km walk by the Salvation Army’s Major Brendan Nottle last month.
His epic 40-day walk to Canberra via the Snowy’s, which began on September 8, raised national political and community awareness about the homeless. It culminated in a meeting with Prime Minister Turnbull and Melbourne’s Lord Mayor Robert Doyle AC, who describes Brendan as ‘an urban saint’.
Brendan spelt out the need for a bi-partisan national strategy on homelessness, as he did with community leaders at all towns he visited along the route.
On his last lap from the old to new Parliament House, he was accompanied by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge and Adam Bandt (Greens MHR). His arrival achieved heavy media coverage including evening news on three TV channels. The walk also raised $130,000, easily beating the $100,000 target.
The Rotary Club of Melbourne coordinated Rotary clubs along the route and in Canberra. The Appin Park Club at Wangaratta hosted Brendan to an evening barbecue in a log cabin. He became guest speaker for the Batlow Club’s weekly meeting, also attended by the Tumut Club President and District 9710 leaders. Then in Canberra Brendan was guest at the weekly meetings of the Canberra East and Weston Creek clubs.
During the walk he slept in an accompanying campervan. Tobin Brothers provided a car and driver travelling ahead to warn oncoming motorists. Many other groups, from unions to commercial businesses and sports clubs, backed his walk.
Brendan says, “When you scratch beneath the surface you see people who’ve experienced absolute hell in their life. I get inspired by their incredible resilience in the face of huge issues - serious mental health issues, horrific abuse and trauma that’s been evident in their life for years - and yet they keep going. That’s the remarkable thing. Their stories put my challenges into perspective.”
Brendan leads the Salvo’s Project 614 in Melbourne, a team that works with the homeless, those with mental and addiction issues, and others suffering from social poverty. They interact daily with people from 9 to 93.
To invite Major Nottle to talk to your club, contact firstname.lastname@example.org Phone 03 9653 3295