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Mabo - Life of an Island Man

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The Mabo Decision was a turning point for the recognition of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' rights, acknowledging unique Ancestral connections to country; and challenged Governor Bourke's 1835 Declaration of Terra Nullius - the notion of no-man's land.

Mabo was the key plaintiff of the 'Mabo case' which successfully challenged the notion of Terra Nullius as the basis for Crown ownership of his homeland - Mer (Murray Island) - and whose 1992 High Court verdict recognised the land rights of the Meriam people. This ruling set a precedent for the land rights of the Indigenous peoples of Australia and resulted in the Native Title Act of 1993.

These images capture crucial moments in Australian history, both regarding Indigenous land rights and recognition.

This set of still photographs and accompanying footage detail aspects of Eddie Koiki Mabo's life, legal fight and legacy, in particular the High Court visit to Murray Island, and the opening and subsequent desecration of Mabo's gravesite.

Among those featured in the photographs are representatives of the Mabo family, the people of Murray Island, Queensland and the Commonwealth Governments, and others involved in the Mabo court case and the Supreme Court visit to Murray Island. They also represent a significant period in Australian documentary film making.

Graham's award-winning documentaries have been included in school curriculums, and form a cornerstone in the widespread understanding of the fight for Indigenous land rights in Australia.

Trevor Graham's landmark films 'Land Bilong Islanders' (1989) and 'Mabo - Life of an Island Man' (1997) have become central to public understanding of the life and legacy of Eddie Koiki Mabo.

These images also document Graham's personal connection with Eddie Mabo and the Mabo family, and Graham's significant time spent on Murray Island.