Frequently Asked Questions
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What is the Yoorrook Justice Commission?
Yoorrook is the first formal truth-telling process into past and ongoing injustices experienced by First Peoples in Victoria as a result of colonisation.
Yoorrook was set up by agreement between the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and the Victorian Government, but is independent of the Assembly and of Government.
Yoorrook delivered an interim report in June 2022 and will deliver a final report by June 2024.
Yoorrook is led by five Commissioners, of whom 4 are Aboriginal and 3 are Victorian First Peoples. The Commissioners bring a vast range of knowledge and experience about First Peoples’ knowledge, systemic disadvantage, land rights, history, law, trauma and healing.
What will Yoorrook do?
Yoorrook’s goals are understanding, truth and transformation. To achieve these goals, Yoorrook will:
- Establish an official public record of the impact of colonisation on First Peoples in Victoria.
- Develop a shared understanding among all Victorians on the impact of colonisation, as well as the diversity, strength and resilience of First Peoples’ cultures.
- Make recommendations for healing, system reform and practical changes to laws, policy and education, as well as matters to be included in future treaties.
What is truth-telling?
Truth-telling is a process of openly sharing truths after periods of conflict to allow for resetting of relationships, based on justice and human rights. It is the act of telling our true history, particularly the experiences of First Peoples which have been disregarded for many years.
With Yoorrook, Victoria now joins many other societies in truth-telling to face its past and build a stronger future together.
How Yoorrook will gather information?
First Peoples can tell their truth to Yoorrook in a wide range of ways including making a submission, joining a Yarning Circles or other truth-telling forum. For more information see Have your Say - Making a Submission
Yoorrook will also require the Victorian Government and other institutions to give evidence about current and past practices and policies.
Yoorrook will closely examine information that is already available, as well as seeking new information.
How can I tell my truth?
We encourage all First Peoples to participate in Yoorrook’s work. All ways of telling your truth are of equal importance. All contribute to Yoorrook’s work.
There will be many ways and opportunities for you to participate in Yoorrook at different times. These include:
- Making a submission. This can be in any form, such as writing, an audio or video recording, or through a truth-telling object such as an artwork, cultural artefact, or photo. First Peoples can make a submission now using the form on this website. The broader Victorian community will also be invited to participate at a later date.
- Joining a truth-telling forum, such as a yarning circle or workshop, round table, cultural site and community visits or cultural activity. Yoorrook will advertise these forums as its work progresses.
- Being a witness at a hearing. Witnesses will be invited by Yoorrook based on their direct experiences and perspectives on matters within Yoorrook’s Terms of Reference and preparedness and readiness to engage in truth-telling in a public setting. Broad representation across families, communities, regions, gender and other characteristics will also be taken into account.
How will Yoorrook keep my information safe?
Yoorrook protects the information rights of First Peoples through our Indigenous data sovereignty protocols. You can choose whether all or only parts of your truth are used by Yoorrook on the website, in publications, or displayed at events.
For more information see Indigenous Data Sovereignty and Data Governance.
What is Yoorrook's approach to using language terms?
Yoorrook is the Wemba Wemba word for truth.
The Yoorrook Justice Commission recognises that the revival and restoration of First Peoples’ languages today is an essential aspect of self-determination. The Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities protects people’s right to enjoy culture and use language and specifically recognises the distinct rights of First Peoples to maintain and use their language.
Yoorrook encourages all First Peoples to use any language terms they would like to in their truth telling submissions and in appearances at the Commission.
Yoorrook also welcomes suggestions from Traditional Owners of additional ways in which using and reviving language could contribute to achieving the Commission's goals of truth, understanding and transformation.
What support does Yoorrook offer?
We encourage all First Peoples to participate in Yoorrook’s work and Yoorrook offers you a safe space where your truth, culture and wellbeing is prioritised and respected. The services described below are available whether you want to share your experience over the phone, online, at a community forum, or in a hearing. For more information, click on “Keeping You Safe & Strong” in the menu or see Lotjpa Independent Legal Service – Legal Help Fact Sheet and Keeping you Safe and Strong - getting Support.
Social, Emotional and Cultural Wellbeing support
Yoorrook's supports reflect a holistic view of First Peoples’ wellbeing, encompassing connection to family, kin, Country, culture, community and ancestors.
Yoorrook’s team is available for a First Yarn to learn more about your circumstances and can explain what supports are available to you. Free, confidential and culturally safe debriefing and counselling is also available. For more information see Keeping you Safe and Strong - Getting Support.
It is important to get legal advice if you want to say something to the Yoorrook Justice Commission that could impact you or your legal rights. For example, if you want to share details of something you agreed to keep private, or if there is a current court case that involves things you’re not allowed to talk about publicly.
Talking to a lawyer at Lotjpa Independent Legal Service is free and confidential. The service is independent from the Commission. The Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) and Victoria Legal Aid (VLA) run this service. To find out more about legal issues see the Lotjpa Independent Legal Service – Legal Help Fact Sheet.
Support for witnesses at hearings
If Yoorrook invites you to give evidence as a witness at a hearing, you may be entitled to payments for things like loss of income, childcare and meals, travel and accommodation.
Yoorrook can arrange an interpreter if you want to share your story in your own language, including Indigenous languages and Auslan.
If you are deaf, hearing or speech impaired contact us through the National Relay Service (NRS) and ask to call 1800 966 775. If you have any issues connecting through the NRS, please call the NRS Helpdesk on 1800 555 660 (Monday to Friday 8am-6pm).
For any other help, or for more information, call us on 1800 YOO RRK (1800 966 775 free call) Monday to Friday, 9am to 5pm.
Can Yoorrook help First Peoples find information about their family history?
No, unfortunately Yoorrook does not provide this service. However, there are a range of other services for Stolen Generation survivors that may be able to assist in helping locate family history information.
These services, what they provide and how to contact them are listed on this website: Services for Victoria's Stolen Generations | First Peoples - State Relations
There is also online information about how to research Victorian First Peoples’ family history including where information may be held and organisations that may be able to help. The following links may be useful:
Public Records Office Victoria: Aboriginal Victorians family history | PROV
The State Library of Victoria: Get started - Aboriginal people and family history - Research Guides at State Library of Victoria
AIATSIS: Family history | AIATSIS
Yoorrook understands that accessing this information is complex and that this is an important issue for Victorian First Peoples. Yoorrook intends to look into ways that access to information can be improved in the future.