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Mabo Day Celebrations

3/06/2014

On the 3rd June 1992, the High Court of Australia ruled in favour of Eddie "Koiki" Mabo and plaintiffs in disproving the legal doctrine of "Terra Nullius". This journey began in 1982 when Eddie Mabo and plaintiffs sought legal acknowledgement of their traditional ownership of their lands. This battle continued for the next 10 years until the 3rd June 1992 when the High Court ruled in favour of the Meriam people. Unfortunately, by this time, Uncle Koki and two other Meriam plaintiffs had already passed away.

This court case means so much to Indigenous Australians. This historic ruling disproved the theory that Australia was "Terra Nullius" - a land belonging to no one when European settlement occurred. this ruling also proved that the people of Mer were 'entitled as against the whole world to the possession, occupation, use and enjoyment of most of the lands of Murray Islands'. By disproving the notion of "Terra Nullius" the Meriam people had proven that they did indeed tend to their lands throughout the cultivation of crops, fish traps and the marking of clan lands. The Native Title Act 1993 is a part of the Commonwealth Government's response to that historic High Court decision.  ​