Through the 1960s and ’70s ‘blood’ definitions such as those in the constitution were finally abandoned and today, a person is legally Aboriginal if they are a member of the Aboriginal race. Torres Strait
“Membership of the Indigenous people
depends on biological descent from the Indigenous people and on mutual recognition of a particular person’s membership by that person and by the elders or other persons enjoying traditional authority among those people.”
- Justice Gerard Brennan,
Mabo and Others vs. Queensland 1992
Islanders are the Indigenous people of the Torres Strait Islands which are part of Queensland. Their identity and culture is distinct from Aboriginal peoples on the mainland.
Eddy Koiki Mabo was a man from the Torres Strait Islands known for his role in campaigning for Indigenous land rights and for his role in a landmark decision of the High Court of Australia which overturned the legal doctrine of terra nullius ("land belonging to nobody") which characterised Australian law with regard to land and title. The case is historical for Aboriginal people and is a testament to the slow change that has taken place in recent decades. Thanks to people like Eddie Mabo we are seeing a fundamental shift in the relationship between Aboriginal and non Aboriginal people.