Our land is our birth right: MABO25 & Beyond
In 2017 the National Native Title Conference was convened by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and the North Queensland Land Council (NQLC) on the traditional lands of the Gurambilbarra Wulgurukaba people, Townsville Queensland. The conference was held at the Townsville Entertainment and Convention Centre from Monday 5 - Wednesday 7 June 2017.
This year we celebrated the 25th anniversary since the High Court of Australia’s momentous Mabo decision. The Court overturned terra nullius and recognised the continuity of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ rights to lands and waters under Indigenous laws and customs.
By acknowledging a wrong and seeking to make it right, the Mabo decision occupies a vital place in the story of Australia. In the past 25 years, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have seized the opportunities the decision presented, though the way has not been easy.
The year’s conference was an opportunity to reflect upon the impact of the decision and examine how we can do better. It was a chance to honour those who fought for recognition and learn from those who are forging new paths today.
The 2017 conference program was reflected through the following themes by over 150 speakers:
- Looking back: this theme invited discussion of the legacy of the Mabo case and the legal and policy changes that followed. It connected the decision with the broader context of Indigenous peoples’ struggle for land justice and self–determination.
- Looking around us: this theme examined the current priorities, challenges and new opportunities for Indigenous peoples’ lands, waters and communities, and the role that native title can play in realising that vision.
- Looking forward: the recognition of native title is one step in a journey. This theme explored possible futures for Indigenous peoples’ on their land and seas, and ways that Australia society can build a future based on respect for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Each conference is strongly supported by native title representative bodies, native title claimants and holders, their legal counsel, native title practitioners such as anthropologists, government institutions and departments, politicians, judges, academics and others.
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