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Now to the story...

Mabo judgment marks 10th anniversary

Extract from Australian Broadcasting Corporation - ABC Online, on June 3rd, 2002.

Celebrations are planned throughout the country today to mark the 10th anniversary of the Landmark High Court Mabo decision.

The Mabo decision was a turning point in Australia for Aborigines and Torres Strait Islanders seeking landrights.

On June 3 1992, the highest court in Australia recognised for the first time the rights of indigenous people to their traditional lands under their customs and laws.

The High Court ruled six to one in favor of Eddie Mabo and four other Murray Islanders awarding them native title over their land on Mer in the Torres Strait.

The court also overturned the notion Australia was terra nullius or no mans land, when the British settled in 1788.

Today islanders living in the Torres Strait have declared the date a public holiday and celebrations have been planned around the country.

Of the five High Court plaintiffs only two are still alive, Dave Passi and James Rice.

Mr Rice, who is now in his seventies, will celebrate the decision on Mer Island where he lives.

"I"m real happy now," Mr Rice said.

"For one decade I"m real happy, so in our court case we break the terra nullius down.

"We break it and we win the case."

Chairman of the Torres Strait Regional Authority Terry Waia believes today's festivities will play an important role in the future of the region.

Claiming the reconciliation message will be heard loud and clear.

"I'd just like to encourage all Torres Strait Islanders, if we celebrate this with other people, we associate with white Australia, that will bring home the something that other countries will look upon Australia as a very unique set up regarding non indigenous," Mr Waia said.

"And that will really set a good example for other indigenous people around the world."



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