Native Title

Native title is a legal right allowing Indigenous Australian Communities to live on and use land with which they have an ongoing association. Native title has been an issue as its difficult determining whether Australia was “terra nullius” and it wasn’t the Indigenous ad to prove they have traditional links with the land. The conditions that have led to reform to the terra nullius claim were by aboriginal activists challenging Australian sovereignty on the grounds that terra nullius was applied improperly. Mechanisms that have been put into action are the Native Title Act 1993 (Cwlth) which was enacted by the Mabo cases and the Native Title Amendment 1998 (Cwlth) by the Wik case.
When the British declared Australia as terra nullius, it impacted the Indigenous Australians as land belonged to the Crown and they lost all rights to their land. It was unjust as they were traditional owners and guardians of the land who were to use, preserve and celebrate the land for future generations. The traditional custodians were forced to lose their land and culture and many died to new diseases brought by the Europeans. The doctrine of terra nullius meant that in the eyes of the law Indigenous Australians did not exist as citizens.
Reform began to take place when the Yolngu people from the Gove Peninsula, in Eastern Arnhem Land sent a petition to the Commonwealth Government protesting the removal of land for mining without their permission. The petition failed and hence they went to the high court in 1971 and the ‘Gove land right case’ commenced. The Yolngu people lost and three years later they began protesting about poor working conditions and pay. In 1972, the Australian Labour Party established the Department of Aboriginal Affairs in response to the failure of the Gove land rights case. A royal commission into land rights was established and made the Aboriginal Land Rights Act 1976. This is...