What is the legacy of Mabo?

Gail Mabo, daughter of Eddie, spent three days of NAIDOC Week at St Francis Xavier College helping students understand the significance of the 25th anniversary of her father’s landmark decision in the High Court, and explore his legacy with the students.

Aboriginal support teacher at the Hamilton school Frank Hales started preparing for NAIDOC Week 12 months ago, tracking down Gail with the help of the Maitland-Newcastle Catholic Schools Office.

“She’s an extremely busy woman, so we were very lucky to have her for three days,” Frank said.

“We have a whole program at this school designed to provide Aboriginal students with connection to their culture, land and their mob, so it’s not just about NAIDOC Week.

“I spoke with the students before Gail’s visit about the 25 years since the Mabo decision and how it has impacted on Aboriginal people. I talked with the Aboriginal Student Committee about what we wanted to discuss with Gail.

“Has the plight of Aboriginal people improved over the past 25 years, and if not, what sort of things do we need to do? What kind of legacy has Eddie Mabo given to us?”

Frank said Gail workshopped art, culture and dance with students, and was able to enhance their understanding of the Mabo decision.

“Our Aboriginal student committee spent extended periods of time in Gail’s company. She also explored culture with Studies of Religion students.

“Everyone really appreciated how well Gail was able to relate to 17 and 18 year old students with her charisma and effective communication,” Frank said.