Graham trained for ministry from 1979 to 1982. After a few years in church ministry, Graham became a chaplain to Parramatta Prison and he ran a church welfare agency. After ordination, Graham pursued studies in philosophy achieving degrees from Catholic Theological Union and from the Catholic Institute of Sydney. A Masters with honours degree was halted when a near fatal motorcycle accident changed all of life’s priorities in 2001. Prior to joining Wayside, Graham was on a sabatocal as a Postie – he had just learnt to master his little bike when Wayside called him to be the next Minister.
Graham is an accomplished author and speaker. His two books include; Love over Hate: Finding life by the wayside (2013) and Stories by the Wayside (2011). Graham was admitted to the Order of Australia as an AM in 2015. He has been married to Robyn for 42 years. They have a daughter Mandy. Their son James died in 2009.
From the social worker who became a postman, to the postman who became a pastor, Graham’s journey has led him to share in great joy and great sadness, both in his own life and through the lives of people who have fallen by the wayside. With a unique ability to connect with audiences ranging from a few people to a few thousand people, Graham captivates people with his personal stories and his deep insight about love, hate, power and the ‘self’. He challenges people to reflect on their contribution to society and he inspires people to live as if their last minute was to happen today.
Praise for Rev Graham Long
“Graham is a great leader. He is an inspiration to so many people; people all around Australia.” Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia.
“Graham Long is an extraordinary individual. He understands people, knows how to help them and is inspirational in his writings and public speaking.” David Gonski, Philanthropist and Patron of the Australian Indigenous Education Foundation
“Somewhere along the line Graham was touched by an angel. A man with a bigger heart and a bigger capacity to love I have not met.” – Indira Naidoo, Broadcaster and Author
Graham Long was born in Ballarat, Victoria in 1951. One of five children, Graham’s family moved many times around Victoria and New South Wales. Graham’s father was a Pastor back in the days before social work had organised itself into a profession. In those days police would deliver victims of domestic violence or other problems that didn’t require lock up, to the house of the local clergy. As a kid it was nothing for Graham and his siblings to step over strangers on the way to breakfast. After high school in NSW, Graham’s family moved to South Australia.
Early Studies and First Job
In 1970, Graham commenced studies in the field of social work and completed a number of certificates through the South Australian Institute of Technology (now Adelaide University). Graham’s first job was working in reformatory for boys in SA. In those days, such homes were effectively places of punishment. Children as young as eight years old were put into solitary confinement for five days and even longer. Graham had hair that hung down his back and he was the first person appointed to the home that was not ex-military. It was a shock to his system but it sparked what has been a life-long passion to live with and find a better deal for the poor.
Community Welfare Work
After some years of study, Graham was appointed to the district office of Berri in South Australia as a Community Welfare Worker. The Riverland district in those days only had access to specialist psychiatric services on a visiting basis from Adelaide. A magistrate used to visit once every two weeks. Up to that time all social work services were also provided by a visitation service from Adelaide and children were placed in foster homes without assessment or any real follow-up care. They were interesting days. Graham developed expertise in the area of child protection and became a regional consultant for all child abuse cases that proceeded to Court. When Graham left at 28 years old he was the senior officer in the team placed at Berri for the Department of Community Welfare.
Graham began theological studies in 1978. This move was designed to achieve a wider and deeper education more than a change in occupation. After four years full time study however, Graham began a four-year ministry at Castle Hill. These years were unusual not only because of the growth in the church but because this single congregation conceived, planned, implemented and funded a project to the third world. A scheme in PNG to pump clean water from the water table was a success where people were drinking black swamp water. A pump was developed with only one moving part and the PNG government continued the project in swamp regions.
Parramatta Prison, Pendle Hill and Further Study
In 1987 Graham became a chaplain to Parramatta prison. These were busy years, working with prisoners and prison officers and their families. Graham was appointed as Pastor to a small congregation at Pendle Hill while at the same time he was made Director of the welfare arm of the Churches of Christ in NSW. In the next ten years the congregation at Pendle Hill grew four fold. The staff grew from 2 to 22 in 10 years. This congregation ran a refuge for women and children, a feeding programme for homeless people in Parramatta, a needle exchange, and a whole range of social programmes including a resettlement programme for refugees from Sudan. The congregation provided on-arrival housing for more than 500 refugees within a two-year period. The welfare agency became known as CareWorks with many projects based around the state and with 55 employees. Graham’s philosophy was to make welfare projects firmly based in local communities rather than grow a large central welfare agency. In order to fund these projects Graham acquired a series of op shops and an export business that sent clothing all around the third world. CareWorks became a national organisation with offices in every capital city of Australia as well as many regional locations. Graham continued further study in philosophy. He achieved two degrees from Catholic institutions and was on his way to a PhD when a near fatal motor cycle accident finished his formal study. He maintains a keen interest in philosophical anthropology.
Graham was working as a postie when he received a phone call in 2004 from Wayside Chapel to be its Pastor and CEO. Under Graham’s leadership, The Wayside Chapel, which has offered love and support to people on and around the streets of Kings Cross since 1964, has flourished and regained its status as an iconic Australian charity. Building on the philosophy and work of Wayside Chapel founder Ted Noffs, Graham has been instrumental in furthering Wayside Chapel’s role in delivering services to marginalised people under the banner of ‘love over hate’ and developing the mission of creating community with no ‘us and them’.
Most notable during Graham’s time at Wayside has been his commitment to overseeing the development of a new building. In 2007 the future of The Wayside Chapel was in doubt. Over 40 years of service to people living on and around the streets of Kings Cross had taken its toll. Wayside’s dilapidated buildings on Hughes Street were falling down and in late 2008, Graham led an ambitious campaign to raise the $8.2million it needed to survive. After five years of fundraising and 22 months of construction, Graham officially opened Wayside’s new purpose-built facility in May 2012 to a crowd of over 800 supporters. Over the past 12, Graham has worked tirelessly to serve the community, offering guidance and support to those in need and creating a place where socio-economic barriers between people can be broken down and where the mentality of ‘us and them’ simply becomes ‘us’.
Drawing on his life experiences and deep knowledge of philosophy, Graham has penned two books and has become an inspirational and insightful voice in the community on the topics of religion, loneliness, death, mental health, homelessness and substance abuse.
Graham’s published works include:
Love Over Hate: Finding life by the wayside (2013)
Part autobiography, part memoir, Love Over Hate chronicles Graham’s journey—from the social worker who became a postman, to the postman who became a pastor—and explores the day-to-day life in Kings Cross. Within the pages of Love Over Hate you’ll find lessons on humanity and the strength and tenacity of the human spirit. Long provokes thought and discussion around the notions of love, hate, power and the ‘self’. He challenges the reader to reflect upon their life and the contribution they make to society.
Stories from the Wayside (2011)
A photographic celebration of life at The Wayside Chapel, Stories from the Wayside features stunning images of people from Wayside’s community along with excerpts from Graham’s weekly email, the Inner Circle, which offers readers a snapshot of life by the wayside.