Eddie Mabo

Eddie Mabo’s love of his homeland changed Australian Law and history forever. In 1969, the trade unionist, tried to return to Murray Island to visit his dying father but was refused entry because the authorities believed that he was a troublemaker. Later in life, Mabo found himself working as a gardener at James Cook University and it was here, a chance conversation would shake his understanding of his people’s land. Mabo was shocked when he realized his people’s traditional ownership of the island was not recognised by Australian law. He entered a 10 year legal battle with the Queensland government to establish who owned Murray Island. In June 1992, the Supreme Court of Queensland, issued the “Mabo decision”, finally recognising Mabo’s rights on his land. This decision continues to have ramifications for Australia. Unfortunately, Mabo died a few months before the decision was made, therefore never actually hearing the decision.

“The Mabo Decision delivered by the High Court of Australia on 3 June 1992 was the turning point for reconciliation between indigenous & white Australians”