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Mabo Day 2023 (Australia): Date, History, Significance, Facts

This is a significant holiday in Australia, particularly for the Torres Strait Islander people. Eddie Mabo

By Newsd
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Mabo Day 2023
Mabo Day 2023

Mabo Day 2023: Mabo Day is observed on June 3, the date that the Mabo Decision was issued by the High Court of Australia. This is a significant holiday in Australia, particularly for the Torres Strait Islander people. Eddie Mabo, the activist who spearheaded efforts to reform Indigenous Australians’ rights, is honoured on Mabo Day. Mabo Day commemorates their distinct connection to the land and the legal claims that led to the passage of the Native Title Act by the Australian parliament. Even though Mabo passed away before learning the outcome of his case, the outcomes of his campaign are still celebrated by contemporary Australians.

Mabo Day 2023: History

A collection of Meriam plaintiffs led by Eddie Marbo filed a legal claim for ownership of Australia’s Murray Island on May 20, 1982. This marked the beginning of a movement that would alter land ownership laws in Australia, restoring the rights of Indigenous peoples and rectifying wrongs committed by the British Crown centuries earlier. Ultimately, on June 3, 1992, the High Court of Australia ruled in favour of the Meriam people; this ruling became known as the “Mabo Decision.”

The Mabo Decision overturned centuries-old colonial statutes that stated all land belonged to the Crown because indigenous people did not use it “in a way that indicates possession.” Before the British arrived, Indigenous Australians had already been fishing, cultivating, and inhabiting these lands for tens of thousands of years. Their traditions and laws governed land ownership and use.

In 1993, as a result of Mabo’s initiative, the Australian parliament would adopt the Native Title Act, a framework that incorporates the culture and customs of Indigenous people into land claims.

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Mabo Day 2023: Facts

It took a decade to complete.

The trial of Mabo v. Queensland spanned a decade, beginning at the Queensland Supreme Court and concluding at the High Court of Australia.

One of the judges expressed dissent.

Justice Daryl Dawson was the lone dissenter, stating that Indigenous land ownership rights only existed if the Crown recognised or consented to them, which did not occur in this case.

Mabo was not the only litigant.

The reverend David Passi, Sam Passi, James Rice, and Celuia Mapo Salee, all from Mabo’s Meriam community, accompanied him in Mabo v. Queensland.

The proof was overwhelming

In the end, approximately 4000 pages of transcripts were presented as proof that the Meriam occupied clearly delineated territories for centuries prior to the advent of the British.

The Queensland legislature attempted to eliminate claims.

Possibly anticipating a loss, the Queensland legislature attempted to “extinguish without compensation” any claims made by Indigenous people; however, the Meriam community challenged this legislation, and the High Court sided with them.

Mabo Day 2023: Significance

Mabo Day and the Mabo Decision recognise the traditional land and water rights of Indigenous peoples. Additionally, it recognises that Indigenous people inhabited Australia for thousands of years before the British arrived. Recognising native rights and heritage aids Australia’s reconciliation efforts.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders would not have the freedoms and rights they have today if not for Eddie Mabo’s endeavours. The Mabo Decision provided them with the necessary legal framework and representation. After hundreds of years, justice was ultimately served. And that is an accomplishment worthy of celebration.

Mabo Day is, at its centre, a celebration and recognition of the efforts of one community to reclaim the rights their people lost centuries ago. Mabo and other members of the Meriam community demonstrated the effectiveness of advocacy in the struggle for equality, justice, and reconciliation.

Mabo Day 2023: Dates

Year Date Day
2023 June 3 Saturday
2024 June 3 Monday
2025 June 3 Tuesday
2026 June 3 Wednesday
2027 June 3 Thursday