The Mabo decision was an important event that contributed to the indigenous civil rights movement
The Mabo decision was an important event that contributed to the indigenous civil rights movement, because it recognized the indigenous people’s distinctive relation with the land. This event also led to the Australian government in passing the Native Title Act. The Mabo Decision was named after Edward Koiki Mabo who is a Torres Strait Islander community leader and land rights activist. He was born in 29 June, 1936 on Murray Island. Since Mabo was a young child, he was taught about his family’s land. His knowledge and strong beliefs about the land along with his determination he had, assisted in the High Court to be in favour of the Mabo Case. The Mabo Case was a court case that ran for 10 years. The purpose of it was for the Meriam people (a group of people who live in Murray Island, Torres Strait Island) to have legal recognition of their native title rights over their land. After the Queensland Supreme Court dismissal, the case moved on to the High Court of Australia; which then held the case. On 3 June 1992 five months after Eddie Mabos death, the High court finally made a decision in favour of the Mabo Case. The High Court recognised that the indigenous people were the original owners of Australia and that they can retain native title to their traditional lands. A year after this noteworthy judgment, the Native Title Act 1993 was passed. This eventually opened a gateway for more claims of traditional rights to land, giving the indigenous people a huge advantage. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people (indigenous people) occupied Australia all the way back 65 000 years before the British’s arrival in the year of 1788. The Indigenous people had their custom traditions, languages and had a special connection to the land /country. However the British believed that it was ‘terra nullius’ (no man’s land) and took over it without the consent of the indigenous people. This historical incidence resulted in the indigenous people’s distinctive relation with the land, not being recognised. The indigenous people’s rights and interests in certain land because of the traditional law and customs is called native title. Native title overturns the concept of terra nullius as the act recognises the Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people’s traditional law and customs. The Native Title ACT made in 1993- passed after the Mabo Decision- regulates the procedure in dealing with a land where native title still exists or may exist.