Mabo Day: For nearly 200 years, the government of Australia have operated under the assumption that Australia pertained to neither long before the arrival.
This legal doctrine, known as “terra nullius,” deprived Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples of their inherent rights to particular lands and aimed to cut ties with traditions that date back to 650 decades years.
The date June 3 commemorates the historic triumph in the High Court to reverse that judgment, as well as the heritage of the man who made it possible – Eddie Mabo.
Here’s all you need to know regarding Mabo Day.
Know Who Is Eddie Mabo
Eddie Koiki Sambo was born on the Torres Strait island of Mer, sometimes known as Murray Island, on June 29, 1936.
His mother died while he was in the womb, and he was nurtured by his mother’s brother, Benny Mabo, whom he adopted as his surname. Mabo and his wife, Bonita, arrived in Townsville, Queensland, in 1959.
He was an Islander activist from Torres Strait who helped in the building up of the earliest black public school in Australia. Bonita was a co-founder of the institution (school) and graduated as a teacher’s assistant there as well.
Mabo learnt from academics Noel Loos and Henry Reynolds in 1974 while serving as a landscaper at James Cook University, that Mer was Crown territory controlled by the Australian government, not the Meriam people.
On Mabo Day, What Happened?
The judicial idea of “terra nullius” – that territory seized by white settlers entitled to no one — was invalidated by the High Court in 1992 on June 3.
By a six-to-one margin, the verdict was in favour of the Meriam people. Mabo, who passed away from cancer five months earlier at the age of 55, did not survive to see his win.
Mr Sam and Mrs Salee Passi both died before the decision had been made.