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Long walk secures meeting with Howard -

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Long walk secures meeting with Howard

Reporter: Kim Landers

MAXINE McKEW: The Prime Minister has agreed to hold more talks about the problems faced by
Indigenous Australians after a highly publicised meeting with former AFL star Michael Long.

Mr Long walked most of the way from Melbourne to Canberra to secure his audience with John Howard.

But it's unclear if he's been able to convince the Prime Minister to take up his offer to visit
more Aboriginal communities.

From Canberra, Kim Landers reports.

KIM LANDERS: Almost two weeks ago, Michael Long left Melbourne, determined to walk to Canberra to
meet the Prime Minister to talk about the plight of indigenous Australians.

Ten days and 400 kilometres later, he was in Albury when he got the news that John Howard would see

More at home on a football ground, the former AFL star was flanked by high-profile Aboriginal
leaders Pat and Mick Dodson as he limped towards that goal today.

At an hour-long meeting, they talked about problems in local communities, like alcohol and drug
abuse, domestic violence and the difficulties of finding work.

MICHAEL LONG, FORMER AFL STAR: This isn't just the Prime Minister's problem, this is an Australian
problem, Australian disaster.

KIM LANDERS: They've agreed to talk again.

MICHAEL LONG: Hopefully he can visit more Indigenous communities and see the complexities and
challenges we face from now into the future.

KIM LANDERS: Pat Dodson was one of the royal commissioners who investigated Aboriginal deaths in

He too was at the meeting.

PAT DODSON, ABORIGINAL LEADER: Much change to ignorance and racism is still to be made.

So hopefully within a generation, we may be able to see some better outcomes.

MICK DODSON, ABORIGINAL LEADER: We have been sweeping these problems as a nation under the carpet.

Michael Long has ripped that carpet bare.

MICHAEL LONG: Obviously the Prime Minister is prepared to have further talks, so, um, the journey
is still beginning.

KIM LANDERS: But they left Parliament encouraged by the common ground they found with John Howard.

Michael Long's walk has captured the national spotlight but for many Indigenous people, it hasn't
erased the ill feeling.

After last week's riot on Queensland's Palm Island, sparked by a death in custody, some Aboriginal
people now want Amnesty International and the Red Cross to investigate.

MURRANDO YANNER, ABORIGINAL ACTIVIST: We believe only those two groups are reputable enough and
trusted enough to do a decent job and for everyone to stand by their findings.

KIM LANDERS: In Melbourne, the Palm Island tension was discussed at a meeting of Indigenous Affairs

AMANDA VANSTONE: Anyone who doesn't really know what happened and who isn't on the island, should
just button up, leave the Queensland authorities and the Palm Islanders to go about the business of
finding some calm and some peace.

KIM LANDERS: Reinstated ATSIC chairman Geoff Clark gatecrashed the meeting.

GEOFF CLARK, ATSIC CHAIRMAN: I hope that the Labor ministers here today have enough gall to be able
to challenge the Federal Government at the statewide and local level to bring about that change.

KIM LANDERS: But with the Government preparing to abolish ATSIC, Amanda Vanstone says Geoff Clark
isn't in touch with what's being done.

Kim Landers, Lateline.