Native Title 1992-2017: Silver Jubilee, Silver Linings, Silver Bullets…

Monday, 5 June 2017
Kevin Smith

The anniversary of the historic Mabo judgment is rightly a time to celebrate the wind that blew the grit of terra nullius from the eye of a nation that was blind to its First Peoples.

Since that halcyon day, for some, the grind of proving native title resulting in the begrudging legal recognition of remnant rights that survived the colonisation process has been accepted as a liveable compromise, for others, the anathema of having to prove one’s identity to a system that once deemed their people invisible, sticks in the craw, and for them, the struggle continues.

Some think legal recognition is the logical, natural precursor to economic development and social cohesion, and like a switch, once flicked, instantly illuminates boundless opportunities and with it, a truculent insistence that generations of the darkness of disadvantage have disappeared.

This 25th anniversary is a time of reflection on past highs and lows and the opportunities and challenges ahead.