Today marks the 24th anniversary of the landmark High Court of Australia decision that recognised the native title rights of the Meriam people on Mer Island in the Torres Strait.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs and Country Liberals Senator for the Northern Territory, Nigel Scullion, said Mabo Day had become an important day for the country to recognise and celebrate the decision of the High Court to overturn the doctrine of terra nullius and open up the opportunity for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people to claim their native title.
“On 3 June 1992, following 10 years of hard work from Eddie Mabo and many other Torres Strait Islanders, the High Court determined that terra nullius should not have been applied to Australia,” Minister Scullion said.
“This decision recognised the traditional ownership of Indigenous land across the country, something Indigenous people already knew existed since time immemorial.
“Sadly, Eddie Koiki Mabo passed away before the ruling was made in the High Court, but today is a celebration of his unwavering commitment and strong spirit.
“We pass on our respects to his family, including his wife Bonita.
“More than 20 years since the native title regime started determining the outcome of land claims, the focus is now shifting to the hopes and aspirations of local native title holders through their Prescribed Bodies Corporate to unlock the potential of their land for economic opportunity to provide a strong future for the next generation and beyond.
“I encourage all Australians to mark Mabo Day as part of the important celebrations occurring in National Reconciliation Week.”