Powerful commission launched to investigate First Nations injustice in Victoria

A new Indigenous-led group with the “powers of a royal commission” has been tasked with investigating the injustices suffered by First Nations people in Victoria.

The Yoorrook Justice Commission will investigate a wide range of health, economic, social and political injustices such as massacres, policing, child protection and welfare issues, both current and historical.

The Commission was established with the powers of a Royal Commission and is independent of both the People’s Assembly of Victoria and the Victorian State Government.

The Yoorrook Justice Commission held its wurrek tyerrang (hearing) ceremony at the Stolen Generation in Fitzroy, Melbourne, marking the first public session on Thursday.

“We hope to say who and what is responsible for the atrocities committed against our people” – Sue-Ann Hunter

Yoorrook Justice Commission chairwoman Eleanor Bourke said Yoorrook was an opportunity for all Victorians to listen to each other.

“The stories of Victoria’s First Peoples need to be told, and by telling their stories, all Victorians can share the story and help create a better future based on truth,” she said.

“Although we are a royal commission, we will operate differently, in a more culturally appropriate way, which will make our people comfortable to come and talk to us.”

Yoorrook means truth in Wemba Wemba/Wamba Wamba, an Aboriginal language spoken in North West Victoria.

The Elder truth-telling hearing process will begin on April 26, marking the first formal hearing.

Launch of the Yoorrook Justice Commission of Victoria.

In addition to private and public hearings, the truth process will include online and written contributions, works of art, cultural objects and other forms of expression.

Yoorrook Vice President Sue-Ann Hunter said seniors across the state will be consulted.

“The Elder’s truth process will begin after the consultation process,” she said.

Ms Hunter said the justice commission hoped to create a new narrative for Victorians.

“We hope to articulate who and what is responsible for the atrocities committed against our people and make recommendations to address them in order to improve state accountability and prevent the continuation of systematic injustice,” she said. declared.

“It’s an important mandate and it’s historic and contemporary.”

The Yoorrook Justice Commission is expected to issue its interim report in June 2022.

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