How two men challenged two words and changed Australia

A man in a suit holding books and an Indigenous man with a beard

I like poetry. I like words.

I would like to begin by honoring and quoting the words of Sir Gerard Brennan, the now late Chief Justice of the High Court of Australia, which he wrote in his key decision in the Mabow case:

“The common law itself took away from the indigenous inhabitants any right to occupy their traditional lands, exposing them to the deprivation of the religious, cultural and economic sustenance that the land provided, under the control of the royal authorities without the right to compensation. effectively vested the land. And made the tribals intruders in their own homes and made beggars to live in. Judged by any civilized standard, such a law is unjust…”

The words are carefully chosen to sit alongside each other at the right length and with the right intonation, each setting off the other and chosen for both meaning and melody. I like how the words strike a chord.

They can make us angry – then calm us down. love, mercy, forgiveness; love always

love, suffering, hope, justice and truth

Even Eddie Mabo knew about love. He knew about suffering. He knew about hope and he knew about justice. And he knew the truth.

Truth: This was his land. This is our land. This will always be our land.


And he was right. As much as the law of Australia tried to tell him that he was wrong, he knew his law and he knew that the law of Britain, who stole this land, would have to accept – in the end – accept – What we all knew, what Eddie Mabo knew.

It was not vacant land. This was our land.


I like words. Words speak in all languages. Beyond language.

Words like han. Han is Korean and it is more than a word. It’s a feeling. This is mourning. This sadness is sadness beyond words.


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