The Coalition Government has paid tribute to the life and achievements of Mr Eddie Koiki Mabo on the 25th anniversary of the landmark High Court Mabo decision.
A grave site on Mer Island in the Torres Strait for the pioneering Indigenous land rights campaigner has been restored, thanks to a $193,000 project funded by the Coalition Government.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs, Nigel Scullion, visited the grave site today, Mabo Day, as part of celebrations to mark the 25th anniversary of the landmark High Court Mabo decision.
“Eddie Koiki Mabo was an extraordinary man who led the fight for land rights in the Torres Strait which culminated in the historic decision to acknowledge the traditional rights of the Meriam people, giving rise to the Native Title Act 1993,” Minister Scullion said.
“Mr Mabo’s life has become a part of our nation’s story and it is fitting that his grave site is supported to honour his legacy, pay tribute to his efforts and reflect on his achievements.
“I am pleased that the grave site is now a fitting site for his family, community and all Australians to remember this great Australian. The project has involved a restoration of the site and the provision of shade covering, seating and wheel-chair access for visitors.
“I acknowledge the efforts of the Mabo family, the Prescribed Body Corporate, the Torres Strait Regional Authority and My Pathway, the local Community Development Programme provider, for working with the Government on this project.
“As the Prime Minister said last week, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people’s rights and interests in land have today been formally recognised over more than 40 per cent of Australia’s land mass.
“This is in no small part a testament to the courage and determination of Mr Mabo and the four other plaintiffs who fought so hard to have their land and sea rights acknowledged.
“The number of native title determinations now outweigh the number of claims currently registered.
“This ownership and custodianship of land and sea has led to the recognition of what traditional owners had always known: that this was their country.
“Importantly, the recognition of Indigenous land and sea rights has led to greater economic opportunities for Indigenous communities across the country that are now using their land to support jobs and wealth creation.”
Minister Scullion said hundreds of people were expected to travel to the grave site on Mer Island in coming weeks to celebrate the anniversary, heightening the importance of having the site ready to receive the large numbers of people wishing to pay their respects.