July 5, 2022
VACCA welcomes the release of Yoorrook Justice Commission’s Interim Report and announcement that they will open its truth telling processes to all Aboriginal Victorians and Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations in this second half of 2022 and ongoing.
VACCA has called for a more open and inclusive process from Yoorrook; one that adequately supports more people to give evidence to the Commission in a therapeutic and healing framework, not just a legal response.
VACCA CEO Muriel Bamblett AO says “the focus on Elders from the Commissioners was the right approach. Too often the wisdom of our Elders is overlooked. While the release of the interim report is an important step forward, it is also a reminder of what is yet to come; the stories yet to be told, the truth of our peoples, of our resilience in the face of enduring systemic racism.”
“Truth takes time to tell and an extension for the Commission until June 2026 is a good thing, otherwise it will be a disservice to the intent of the Commission and Victoria’s pathway to treaty,” she added.
If the Victorian government acceots the recommendations in the report and the timeline is extended, VACCA encourages Yoorrook to release a schedule of topics and papers in advance so that Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations (ACCOs) and community can plan accordingly to provide evidence.
“This is important work that has been done to date. But as expected for an interim report there are many gaps, topic areas that must be included both historical and contemporary.” Ms Bamblett said.
VACCA would like to see more attention on historical and more recent government actions that have caused many injustices to Aboriginal Victorians including massacres. Ms Bamblett says that we can’t lose sight of the role non-State entities played in child removals, with so many children and young people today not having access to their culture, community and Country as a focus of the Commission.
“The attempt to eradicate Aboriginal culture and identity continues today through many Aboriginal Victorians and leaders being excluded from economic, social and political participation. Many more Elders, members of the community and Aboriginal organisations must be given the opportunity to contribute to truth telling if we are to move towards Treaty with respect and reciprocity” Ms Bamblett said.
The Interim Report shared Minister Williams balert keetyarra where she acknowledged the historic and ongoing systemic injustices and failures of government. VACCA calls on the government to now identify how they are going to address these issues as an issue of urgency.
VACCA supports both recommendations put forward by Yoorrook. Legislatively protecting Aboriginal data sovereignty is of critical importance. We also support the call for a two year extension to complete their final report; the task at hand is immense and complex and to do so in a way that respects Aboriginal ways of knowing, doing and being, this work must not be rushed. It must be achieved in a culturally safe, therapeutic and trauma informed approach.