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Truth and Justice in Victoria

Victoria’s truth and justice process will occur in parallel to the treaty process.

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 generations of advocacy by Aboriginal Victorians and months of work in partnership with the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (Assembly), in May 2021 the Victorian Government established the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission as the nation’s first truth-telling process. Yoo-rrook is the Wemba Wemba / Wamba Wamba word for truth.

On 12 May 2021, the Governor of Victoria signed the letters patent, as required under the Inquiries Act 2014, to legally establish the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission and set the Terms of Reference.

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. The Commission will be required to deliver an interim report to the Victorian Government by 30 June 2022 and a final report by 30 June 2024.

In doing so, the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission will focus on truth telling, educating the wider Victorian community and making recommendations for reform. It will engage Victoria’s Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal community to achieve its aims of truth telling and truth listening.

The 5 Yoo-rrook Justice Commissioners who will lead the Commission are:

  • Chair Professor Eleanor Bourke
  • Commissioners:
    • Dr Wayne Atkinson
    • Professor the Honourable Kevin Bell QC AM
    • Sue-Anne Hunter
    • Distinguished Professor Maggie Walter

The Commissioners will bring to the Commission’s historic work a vast range of knowledge and experience across the fields of law, sociology and systemic disadvantage, land rights, history, trauma and healing.

The selection of Commissioners was informed by recommendations made by a 4-person Independent Assessment Panel, comprised of panellists nominated by the Assembly, the Victorian Government and the International Center for Transitional Justice.

The Panel conducted a lengthy, transparent, and public Expression of Interest process which saw 64 people nominate and an opportunity for all Victorians to provide comment and feedback on 20 shortlisted nominees.

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.

Reviewed 13 May 2021

Aboriginal Victoria

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