First Peoples tell truth about child protection and criminal justice at Yoorrook hearings

For media enquiries, please contact Evan Schuurman 0408 847 385 or [email protected]

February 27, 2023

The Yoorrook Justice Commission will commence two weeks of public hearings on Wednesday as part of its inquiry into the systemic injustices experienced by First Peoples within Victoria’s child protection and criminal justice systems.

From March 1, Yoorrook Commissioners will hear from First Peoples including parents whose children have been removed, carers and members of the Stolen Generations as part of their inquiry into the child protection system.

The witness schedule for the first week is available here.

The second week, commencing March 6, will centre on Victoria’s criminal justice system, including the need to reform bail laws to stop people being unnecessarily imprisoned in pre-trial detention, the age of criminal responsibility, and police accountability systems. The Commission will hear evidence from First Peoples who have been involved in the adult and youth criminal justice systems and their families, as well as advocates and experts.

Both weeks will examine the push for genuine self-determination and ways to address systemic injustice in the child protection and criminal justice systems.

Chair of the Yoorrook Justice Commission, Professor Eleanor Bourke said:

“First Peoples are grossly over-represented within both the child protection and criminal justice systems in Victoria.

“In December, the Commission heard from numerous Aboriginal leaders and experts who all told Yoorrook that these systems are broken and need to be fixed.

“In this hearing block, we will hear from First Peoples who have personally experienced these systems or seen family members go through them. We will hear about the human toll of systemic injustice, and the enduring impact this has on individuals, their families and Community more broadly.

“Each witness will put their story on the public record forever, and in turn, help Yoorrook to build the evidence we need to make strong recommendations to government to right the wrongs of the past and build a better future for all Victorians.”

Yoorrook is scheduled to hold a further round of hearings on the same issues from March 21 to 31, with representatives from the Victorian Government set to give evidence.

All First Peoples can continue to tell their truth about any ongoing or historic systemic injustice affecting First Peoples in Victoria by making a submission through Yoorrook’s online submission portal.

First Peoples are encouraged to make submissions in any form they wish, including audio or video recorded submissions, artwork, or recordings of song or dance in addition to written submissions.

Free, confidential, and safe social and emotional wellbeing support and legal advice is available for all First Peoples wishing to tell their truth to Yoorrook.

ENDS

Media enquiries: Evan Schuurman, [email protected], 0408 847 385.

Note to editors:

  • Due to the nature of the evidence, several witnesses give evidence in closed sessions, with de-identified statements and transcripts later made available to the media.
  • The Yoorrook media guidelines are available here.
  • Specific guidelines for media regarding the publication of matters identifying children are available here.

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