In pursuing treaty, the government is committed to acknowledging the truth of Victoria’s history and laying the foundations for new, positive relationships between the State, Aboriginal Victorians and non-Aboriginal Victorians.
Aboriginal Victorians have been clear and consistent in their call for truth-telling as an essential part of the treaty process. In particular, the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (Assembly) formally called for a truth and justice process through a resolution of its Chamber in June 2020.
The Yoo-rrook Justice Commission
Following months of work in partnership with the Assembly, the Victorian Government announced it will establish the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission as the nation’s first truth-telling process. Yoo-rrook is the Wemba Wemba / Wamba Wamba word for truth.
The Yoo-rrook Justice Commission is expected to begin in July 2021 following the issuing of letters patent under the Inquiries Act 2014, with its final report due 3 years after establishment.
It is anticipated that the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission will investigate both historical and ongoing injustices committed against Aboriginal Victorians since colonisation by the State and non-State entities, across all areas of social, political and economic life. In doing so, the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission will engage Victoria’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community to achieve its aims of truth telling and truth listening.
The letters patent required to legally establish the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission will be finalised for the Governor’s consideration following a public expression of interest process for Yoo-rrook Justice Commissioners.
Establishment of the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission builds on our state’s nation-leading work on treaty, and the Victorian Government’s commitment in 2018 to address historic wrongs and ongoing injustices through the treaty process. Victoria is now the first and only jurisdiction to have actioned the Treaty and Truth elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Call for Commissioners
A public expression of interest process is now open to recommend 5 extraordinary candidates for appointment as Yoo-rrook Justice Commissioners.
As a group, the 5 Yoo-rrook Justice Commissioners should have knowledge and understanding of systemic disadvantage and its causes, expertise in Indigenous rights, community engagement, decolonisation, transitional justice, government system reform and/or historical inquiries.
All candidates must demonstrate impartiality, moral character and cultural integrity, and be empathetic and trauma-informed.
A majority of Commissioners must be Aboriginal and there should also be a gender balance across the 5 Commissioners.
Once established, the Yoo-rrook Justice Commissioners will likely be required to perform the following duties:
- ensure all aspects of the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission’s work is conducted in a culturally sensitive and trauma-informed way and is guided by priorities identified by Victorian Aboriginal communities
- hear testimonies and other evidence about First Peoples' experiences since colonisation, including First Peoples' ongoing strength and resilience
- inquire into and document laws, policies and practices that impacted on First Peoples' since colonisation and their ongoing effects
- engage with the Victorian public to educate and inspire them about the truth-telling process
- hold events and commemorations organised in consultation with First Peoples
- prepare a report of their findings that will be an official record of the impact of colonisation on First Peoples in Victoria; and
- make recommendations about what can be done to address past and continuing systemic injustices, prevent their recurrence, and improve relationships between First Peoples and the State of Victoria and through building a shared history for all Victorians.
A four-person Independent Assessment Panel will assess expressions of interest and make recommendations to the Premier for consideration. The Independent Assessment Panel comprises panellists nominated by the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, the Victorian Government and the International Center for Transitional Justice. Pipeline Talent is supporting the Independent Assessment Panel.
The public expression of interest process to recommend candidates for appointment as Yoo-rrook Justice Commissioners was open from 9 March to 6 April 2021.
The public may provide confidential feedback or comments in relation to any candidates shortlisted by the panel between 12 April – 23 April 2021. This process will be facilitated by Pipeline Talent. Only comments which are relevant to the key selection criteria will be passed onto the Independent Assessment Panel and relevant candidate, and this will occur after the relevant candidate’s interview. Candidates will be given an opportunity to respond to the Independent Assessment Panel on any comments made about them. Panel members will factor relevant comments and candidates’ responses into their assessment process in advance of selecting a final list of candidates for recommendation to the Premier to consider.
Reviewed 13 April 2021