Twenty three years ago today the High Court of Australia handed down the landmark Mabo decision, marking a turning point for reconciliation in Australia.
Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships Curtis Pitt today reflected on the significance of Mabo Day as an important date in the history of healing our country.
“The Indigenous peoples of Australia occupied this land up to 60,000 years before the British arrived in 1788,” Mr Pitt said.
“It was wrong to declare this land terra nullius and to take it without any agreement or payment being made to Indigenous Australians by claiming this land belonged to no one.
“It’s a wrong we have been working to correct since Mabo Day, the day five Indigenous people from the Torres Strait Island of Mer won their decade-long battle to have the High Court of Australia recognise their native title claim.
“Their fight forever changed the rights of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by acknowledging their unique connection with the land.”
Mr Pitt said to date, 116 native title claims had been recognised in Queensland.
“Mabo Day brings to a close the activities of National Reconciliation Week after a week of coming together,” Mr Pitt said.
“For the past week Queenslanders have come together to reflect, commemorate and celebrate with a number of key observance days, including the commemoration of National Sorry Day (26 May) in the lead up to the week and the anniversary of the 1967 referendum on the 27 May.
“Participating in the celebrations and commemorations of the week acknowledges the actions of the past, both hurtful and honourable.
“Through this recognition we are able to move forward as a state, embrace the opportunities we have here in Queensland and ensure they are available to all.
“On Mabo Day, I encourage all Queenslanders to reflect upon Eddie Mabo’s legacy, and be inspired to take steps, whether large or small, as individuals and as members of the broader community groups, to advance the cause of reconciliation in Australia.”
For more information about Mabo Day and events taking place across Queensland visit www.maboday.com.au