Frequently Asked Questions
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.
It will deliver an interim report in June 2022 and 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.
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.
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.
First Peoples can tell their truth to Yoorrook in a wide range of ways including making nuther-mooyoop (a submission), joining a Yarning Circles or other truth-telling forum. For more information see Information sheet 2: Different ways to tell your truth.
Yoorrook will also require the Victorian Government and other institutions to give pil’kneango mirnk (evidence) about current and past practices and policies.
Yoorrook will closely examine information that is already available, as well as seeking new information.
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 nuther-mooyoop (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. An online form for Elders’ nuther-mooyoop is now available. Yoorrook will invite other First Peoples to tell their truth in the second half of 2022. The broader Victorian community will also be invited to participate at a later date. For more information see Information sheet 3: Making a nuther-mooyoop. Or click on “Have your Say” in the menu.
- 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 in a wurrek tyerrang (public 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. For general information on the wurrek tyerrang process, see Practice Direction 1: Wurrek tyerrang (Public Hearings).
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 Information Sheet 4 – Indigenous Data Sovereignty and Data Governance.
Yoorrook recognises that the revival and restoration of First Peoples’ languages helps keep First Peoples connected to culture and grounds our identity in who we are as a community. It shows the resilience of First Peoples’ knowledge and contributes to Yoorrook’s goal of creating shared understanding of these issues for the broader public.
The Victorian Aboriginal Corporation for Languages (VACL) in collaboration with the Wurundjeri Woi Wurrung Cultural Heritage Aboriginal Corporation and VACL’s Advisory Language groups contributed to translation of the Language terms Yoorrook is using. Yoorrook extends its sincere thanks and respect to VACL and Traditional Owners who have identified and granted permission for their use in Yoorrook’s work. Yoorrook welcomes all suggestions from Traditional Owners of additional ways in which your languages could contribute to its goals of truth, understanding and transformation.
Yoorrook is the Wemba Wemba word for “truth”. Yoorrook has identified a number of terms in Language to also remind all participants in its truth-telling that our way of working is unique among other formal inquiries. The Language terms adopted by Yoorrook are:
|Nuther-mooyoop||Boonwurrung word for ‘truth’. This is what is often referred to as making ‘a submission’.|
|Pil’kneango mirnk||Djab Wurrung for ‘open eyes’. This is what is often referred to as ‘evidence’.|
|Balert keetyarra||Wathaurong phrase for ‘strong talk’. This is what is often referred to as a ‘witness statement’.|
|Wurrek tyerrang||Wergaia word for ‘speaking together’. This is what Yoorrook will convene as public hearings.|
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 wurrek tyerrang (public hearing). For more information, click on “Keeping You Safe & Strong” in the menu or see Lotjpa Independent Legal Service – Legal Help Fact Sheet and Information Sheet 6: Social and Emotional Wellbeing Supports.
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 Information sheet 6: Social and Emotional Wellbeing Supports.
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 wurrek tyerrang
If Yoorrook invites you to give pil’kneango mirnk (evidence) as a witness at a wurrek tyerrang, you are 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.
Yoorrook formally launched its truth-telling on 24 March 2022, the International Day for the Right to Truth.
Yoorrook is hearing from Elders through community visits and submissions. An initial group of Elders will also provide their truth at a wurrek tyerrang (public hearing).
Yoorrook will invite other First Peoples to tell their truth in the second half of 2022. The broader Victorian community will also be invited to participate.