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20th anniversary of the Mabo decision

By JOL Admin | 31 May 2012



The date 3 June 1992 is forever remembered as a victory for Indigenous land rights with the High Court of Australia's landmark decision in the case Mabo v Queensland (No 2) - more commonly known as simply 'Mabo'. 'Mabo' marked the first formal recognition of Indigenous land rights in Australia. The High Court overturned the legal doctrine of terra nullius ('land belonging to nothing, no one') which implied that no-one held ownership of the land until the arrival of European settlers.

One of the main agitators for Indigenous land rights was Torres Strait Islander and land rights activist Eddie Koiki Mabo. In 1982 Eddie Mabo and four other Meriam people from Murray Island in the Torres Strait began legal action in the High Court of Australia. Sadly Eddie Mabo died five months before the High Court's decision after 10 years of struggle. A tele-movie celebrating the life of Eddie Mabo will premiere on ABC1 on 10 June.

The State Library of Queensland holds OM95-26 Mabo Cutting Books. These books contain newspaper articles relating to the 'Mabo' Abotiginal land claim debate and Aboriginal land rights between November 1990 and October 1994.



Each year on the anniversary of the Mabo decision numerous events are held throughout Australia. You can find more details on Mabo Day - a celebration.

'Mabo' is also celebrated as part of National Reconciliation Week

Myles Sinnamon - Project Coordinator, State Library of Queensland


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