Terra Nullius was once apparent in Australian society, but has now been nullified with the turn of the century. With the political changes in our society, and the apology to Indigenous Australians, society is now witnessing an increase in aboriginals gaining a voice in today’s society. Described by Pat Dodson (2006) as a seminal moment in Australia’s history, Rudd’s apology was expressed in the true spirit of reconciliation opening a new chapter in the history of Australia. Considerable debate has arisen within society as to whether aboriginals have a right to land that is of cultural significance and whether current land owners will be able to keep their land.
An issue facing society is whether legislation in place is sufficient in balancing the rights of Indigenous Australians and the rights of current land owners who will be affected by the Native Title Act 1993 (Cth). To determine whether legislation is sufficient and fair, an investigation into the current societal view point needed to be considered by legislators. These legislators needed to evaluate the ways in which other societies had catered to the needs of indigenous land owners. Through consideration of these points, recommendations and changes to legislation need to be debated and enacted to ensure more equitable legislation on land rights within Australia
Struggles by Aboriginal and Torres Strait islander people for recognition of their rights and interests have been long and arduous (Choo & Hollobach 2003:5). The ‘watershed’ decision made by the High Court of Australia in 1992 (Mabo v Queensland) paved the way for Indigenous Australians to obtain what was ‘stolen’ from them in 1788 when the British ‘invaded’ (ATSIC:1988). The focus of legislation in the past was governed by two laws, laws for the indigenous Australians and laws for the British, subsequent government recognised the inflammatory nature of these prejudicial laws recognising that changes had to be made. Case by case indigenous Australians begin to gain access to the land that was taken from them.
Contentious debate continues to rage in present society opening a floodgate of ethical issues which can have detrimental effects on all parties involved. Ethics vary from each individual and tend to stem from their own belief systems external to that person (Dosen, Harris, Brock, Imariso and Smith 2007:336). These ethics give rise to conflicting arguments in present society. 50 years ago, Indigenous Australians were not entitled to enter a bar, cafe, swimming pool, or a cinema, if that deprivation of basic rights wasn’t enough; they then took children from their mothers later on known as the ‘stolen generation’ (www.creativespirits.2008). The stolen generation, estimated at over 100,000 children were taken from their homes and placed in missions, reserves or dormitories (www.creativespirits.2008). “I feel our childhood has been taken away from us and it has left a big hole in our lives” an Indigenous Australian part...