Members statement: Yoorrook Justice Commission
Over the last few weeks while Parliament has been in recess something historic has begun in Victoria. The Yoorrook Justice Commission, the first truth-telling process to occur anywhere in Australia, has begun. The first block of wurrek tyerrang, meaning public hearings, is now hearing from First Nations people about historical and ongoing injustices they have endured. The testimony so far has told the harrowing truth about the trauma of being removed from family and country and the deliberate attempts to sever family relationships and erase any cultural connections and knowledge. We need to know and understand that truth so we never allow that oppression to occur again. The significance of this commission cannot be overstated. It is one of the most important and historic events to occur in this state and this country on our path towards treaties with First Nations.
I honour the work of every person who helped establish the commission. This began with calls from grassroots First Nations communities and it took years of being ignored, minimised and silenced before it was finally heard. I pay tribute to my colleague Lidia Thorpe, who led the charge in this place for a truth and justice commission from the moment she was elected, and she never gave up. I thank the First Peoples’ Assembly for their formidable work in calling for truth telling from the moment their work began, and the government for responding. I urge all of us to do everything we can to genuinely listen to the evidence that is being revealed and ensure that every Victorian is aware and is a part of this process. In the words of Lidia Thorpe:
… we all need to take responsibility and own the truth. I believe it is critical to understand what has been lost before we can understand what is required to find justice and proper redress, to heal and create peace between the first peoples of this land and the state of Victoria.