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Mabo papers donated to Law School marking dual 30-year anniversary

Materials from the historic Mabo land rights case have been donated to Deakin Law School for research to inform ongoing developments in the recognition of native title and Indigenous sovereignty.

The donation by Dr Bryan Keon-Cohen KC, a junior counsel who worked on the Mabo case, comes at a significant time. Both the Mabo decision and Deakin Law School mark their 30-year anniversary this year, and Australia is now planning for a referendum on constitutional recognition and a First Nations voice to parliament.

These important issues will be at the centre of the law school’s special 30th anniversary panel event on Wednesday 19 October, exploring the current drive for recognition of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, in the context of Australia’s history on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights.

Dr Keon-Cohen KC, will be joined on the panel by Dr Shireen Morris, a constitutional law expert whose book ‘A First Nations Voice in the Australian Constitution’ makes the case for a constitutionally guaranteed voice, and Professor Mark Rose, who was born before the referendum that gave Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people the right to be recognised as an Australian citizens, and shares the story of many families impacted by the stolen generation.

Dean of Deakin Law School, Professor Jenni Lightowlers, said she was proud to bring members of the Deakin and legal community together for such an important and topical conversation.

“Our expert panellists have spent their lives working tirelessly in the service of the law, justice and human rights,” Professor Lightowlers said. (Below: Brian Keon-Cohen KC and Professor Jenni Lightowlers)

Brian Keon-Cohen KC and Prof Jenni Lightowlers“It’s an honour for Deakin Law School to accept the Mabo papers from Dr Keon-Cohen KC, which represent a significant body of work with a lasting influence on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander rights. Our school, and the wider community, will see great benefit in consulting this work as we move forward to the next set of opportunities endorsed in the Uluru statement.”

After teaching an intensive summer unit on Indigenous Issues for Deakin Law School, Dr Keon-Cohen KC decided to donate his case papers so they could be accessible to researchers.

The extensive cache of documents – copies of the case notes, transcripts, hearings, photos, and maps that Dr Keon-Cohen KC used for the Mabo case from 1982 to 1992 – will be held by Deakin but will be made available to others for research purposes upon request. Some of the maps and extracted materials will also be displayed at Deakin’s Burwood campus.

‘From Mabo to the Uluru Statement from the Heart’

A special 30th anniversary panel event 

When: 5.30 to 7.30pm, Wednesday 19 October 2022

Where: Deakin Downtown, Tower 2, Level 12, 727 Collins Street Melbourne

Who: Professor Jenni Lightowlers, Dr Bryan Keon-Cohen KC, Dr Shireen Morris and Professor Mark Rose.

More details: Register to attend via Eventbrite



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