2012 marked a special milestone in the fight for native title rights. In June 2012, Australia celebrated 20 years since Eddie Koiki Mabo’s historic victory in the High Court.
Mabo’s victory signalled the end of the fiction of ‘terra nullius’ and recognition in law of the First Peoples as the Traditional Owners of this land.
Native title laws enacted in 1993 were intended to ‘rectify past injustices’ and raised hopes that the lives of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people would be measurably improved.
Since that time, the native title system has become complex, costly and slow, with the odds weighted against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
Looking back on 20 years since the Mabo decision, it is clear that we have made significant progress. But the promise of Mabo has not yet been realised.
For more information on native title, see ANTaR’s Factsheet: ’20 years on: The Facts on Native Title’.