Aboriginal truth-telling body to investigate Victorian justice and child protection systems

Indigenous Victorians will be able to share their stories of injustice in the child welfare and criminal systems as part of Australia’s first official truth inquiry.

The Yoorrook Justice Commission is calling for responses to background papers on critical topics, with Vice Chair Sue-Anne Hunter saying the country is seeing “a new stolen generation happening before our eyes”.

“The harm inflicted on the Stolen Generation continues to traumatize our people, yet record numbers of First Peoples children are being taken from their families – at a rate 20 times greater than non-Aboriginal children,” she said.

“Too many children are still separated from their parents, country and culture due to harmful policies and practices.”

Public hearings will begin on these issues on December 5, when approximately 40 witnesses will begin to share their views on the harms suffered by First Peoples at the hands of unjust laws and practices within the criminal justice and human rights systems. childhood.

The hearings will also examine why governments have not yet made changes.

Aboriginal people are still imprisoned at 14 times the rate of non-Aboriginal Victorians, and more than 500 Aboriginal people have died in custody since a royal commission into the matter, Ms Hunter said.

“The apparent inability or unwillingness to change these systems is the unfinished business that the Yoorrook Justice Commission will focus on in the next phase of its investigation,” she said.

“By telling the truth about the criminal justice and child protection systems and holding those in power to account, we can create a fairer Victoria where everyone has an equal chance to thrive.”

The Truth Inquiry will continue to gather observations and hear from other injustices experienced by First Peoples alongside its work on the criminal justice and child protection systems.

Indigenous peoples who wish to share their views on the systems must do so by November 21.

Yoorrook was commissioned to create a public record of the impacts of colonization on First Nations people in Victoria.

The inquiry released its interim report in June, calling for a two-year extension of the deadline for its final report to 2026.

It was set up as part of Victoria’s Commitment to Truth and the Treaty Elements of the Heart of Uluru Declaration of 2017, with negotiations on a statewide treaty set to begin the ‘next year.

  • Story by Cassandra Morgan, AAP

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