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Eddie Mabo's Struggle and Legacy for Indigenous Land Rights in Australia

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Struggle of Eddie Mabo

Edward Koiki Mabo famously known as the Eddie Mabo was an Australian fighter who played a major role in the campaigns for land rights in Australia. In celebration of his successful efforts each year June 3, is celebrated as Mabo day. After completing his education, he became an active worker in the fight for black rights. In the year 1981, when one conference about land rights was held at the University of James Cook, Mabo gave his inspirational speech about the inheritance system of the lands on Murry Island (Kuriype, R. 2018). The struggle he made was the key that helped to reverse the myth about the land of Australia, which stated that the land belongs to no one. The case he made was one of the most crucial legal cases in Australia, which helped to provide the recognition of the land rights to the Meriam People, who were the true owner of the Murry islands (bloomberg, 2022). This Mabo vs Queensland case was an eye-opener for the court, and after that, the court stated that the Indigenous peoples were a part of the land for thousands of years and they had enjoyed their original rights. As a result, in 1993 the Native Title Act was passed.

Prove to achieve success

In the process of achieving success and providing the original rights to the Marriam people, the main thing that Eddie Mabo had to do was to break a myth about the Australian lands. In 1992, there was a land law that stated that the land of Australia was “terra nullius”, which means the land belongs to no one (bbc, 2022). In simple words, the main idea about the law was that it denied any kind of prior connection of the Indigenous peoples with the land. The process of nullifying the “terra nullius” leads the path to the Native Title Act was passed later in 1993 after the Mabo case. It provided the required rights to the aboriginals of the Australian land who had been already living there for thousands of years.

Significance of the case

The Mabo case or the Mabo decision was a legal case in the Australian High court, in 1992, that helped to bring the ownership of Murry Island to the group of Torres Strait Islanders, and it was led by Eddie Mabo (dlgsc.wa, 2022). It still has major significance in the process of changing the perspective of people towards the aboriginals. It helped the people to accept the presence of the Indigenous people who were living within the nation. The work that Mabo had started back then is still in progress. The Mabo case can bring the awareness that is required for the present generation to connect with the problem. It will inspire them and help them to be prepared therefore they can continue the work Mabo started once. He is still a role model for the current generation, whom they follow to fight for the rights of the aboriginals and inspires them to fight against all the odds that they face being the aboriginals. For them, Mabo is an example who crossed all the barriers to own the rights of the people.



Kuriype, R. (2018). Recognising Indigenous Land: Analysing the Success of Native Title and Land Rights Campaigns. NEW: Emerging scholars in Australian Indigenous Studies, 4(1), 58-64. Retrieved from:


bbc, (2022), Eddie Mabo, the man who changed Australia, Retrieved from: [Retrieved on: 26th October, 2022] dlgsc.wa, (2022), Mabo decision, land rights and native title, Retrieved from:,their%20traditional%20Native%20Title%20rights. [Retrieved on: 26th October, 2022] bloomberg, (2022), How the Legacy of a Civil Rights Hero Was Dismantled in Australia, Retrieved from: [Retrieved on: 26th October, 2022]

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