It is the 30th anniversary of Mabo Day. What is it and why is it significant?

Mabo Day's 30th anniversary: What is it and why is it significant?

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The historic 'Mabo Decision' overturned 200 years of 'Terra Nullius'.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander audiences be advised this article uses names and images of deceased persons.


Today marks 30 years since the High Court of Australia handed down the historic 'Mabo Decision'.

Named in honour of Torres Strait Islander campaigner Eddie Mabo, the decision overturned 200 years of 'Terra Nullius'.

The doctrine had previously refused Indigenous people rights over their traditional lands and seas.

While working at James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland in 1982, Mabo gave a speech calling for Indigenous people to be given their rights.

It sparked a decade-long legal battle that went all the way to Australia's highest judges. One of those judges was Sir Gerard Brennan, who died earlier this week.

Dying in January 1992, Mabo did not live to see the historic ruling in his favour that was to be handed down just five months later.

His wife, Benita Mabo, recalls that unto his dying breath, land claims was his singular focus.

"On his deathbed, that's all he had on his mind," she told the ABC in 2002.

"Land claims. That was his last words."

INSET: Eddie Mabo

INSET: Eddie Mabo

Since the ruling, at least 30 claims of native title have been successfully upheld, and hundreds of other cases have been made.

It's understood the Ngunnawal traditional owners are currently preparing to lodge a claim over the area known now as the ACT and surrounding NSW.

The story It is the 30th anniversary of Mabo Day. What is it and why is it significant? first appeared on Newcastle Herald.