Queensland Government Media Releases

25 Years since Mabo

June 03, 2017

Minister for Local Government and Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships
The Honourable Mark Furner

25 Years since Mabo

Today's 25th anniversary of the High Court's Mabo land rights decision marks the culmination of an extraordinary week of reflection on the next steps to reconciliation in Queensland. 

Minister for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Partnerships, Mark Furner said National Reconciliation Week 2017 had highlighted the defining events in Australia's history that had shaped our reconciliation journey. 

"Today, 25 years ago, our nation's highest court overturned the assumption that Australia was terra nullius, or land belonging to no one, when the first European settlers arrived," Mr Furner said. 

"The High Court's decision formally recognised the special relationship Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have with the land and followed a decade-long legal case by a group of Torres Strait Islander men including Eddie Koiki Mabo. 

"Mabo Day commemorates the late Eddie Mabo's land rights campaign and its importance to our nation's reconciliation." 

The Mabo decision continues to influence reconciliation with 3.5 million hectares of land returned to Traditional Owners by the Queensland Government's Cape York Peninsula Tenure Resolution Program. 

Almost 161,000 hectares of land known as Bromley was formally handed back to Traditional Owners by Minister Furner, on behalf of the Palaszczuk Government, on May 17. 

"National Reconciliation Week also marked the 50th anniversary of the 1967 Referendum in which the country overwhelmingly voted in favour of constitutional change and for Indigenous Australians to be counted in the census," Mr Furner said. 

"At the 2017 Queensland Reconciliation Awards we've celebrated and recognised individuals and organisations who have made significant contributions to reconciliation in the community, including the Puuya Foundation - winner of the Premier's Reconciliation Award. 

"And, we reflected on the healing of the Stolen Generations on National Sorry Day which this year marked 20th since the Bringing them Home report." 

"National Reconciliation Week 2017 has been an opportunity to consider the next steps in our reconciliation journey and the legacy we as Queenslanders want to be remembered for by future generations." 

The Palaszczuk Government is proud to support the Mer Gedkem Le of Mer Island in recognising the 25th anniversary of the Mabo land rights decision in Eddie Koiki Mabo's traditional home lands, as well as Mabo Day events across Queensland through partnerships with the Queensland Torres Strait Islander Independent Congress.