Mabo Day: how far have we come?

Mabo Day: how far have we come?

Indigenous Affairs
Monday, 03 June 2019

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

Native Title image showing 460 determinations made, 223 pending.

Mabo Day recognises the courageous efforts of Eddie Koiki Mabo to have terra nullius overturned in the High Court which paved the way for native title determinations in Australia.

Since this day in 1992, there have been 460 native title determinations made with a further 223 claims still moving through the system. There are now more native title determinations than claims.

As of 5 May 2019, 37 per cent of all land in Australia now has a recognised native title interest in it. This figure will grow to about 60 per cent once all claims are finalised.

The native title system is complex and continues to change and mature over time, especially as more claims are finalised. Each native title group has their own unique challenges and opportunities.

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet funds native title representative bodies and services providers to assist Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities to realise native title. A key focus for Government is to make sure the system is working well so that traditional owners can enjoy the benefits of their native title rights and interests.

Where native title claims are successful, communities often benefit in a number of ways. It allows traditional owners, their families and communities to use the land in ways that recognise traditional laws and customs. This may include activities like fishing, hunting, conducting traditional ceremonies and gathering food and bush medicines. It can also include protection of sacred sites, and even business and investment opportunities. 

You can read more about the PM&C’s work on native title in the Indigenous Land section of our website.