The Yoorrook Justice Commission has today announced its upcoming investigation into the impact of the child protection and criminal justice systems on First Peoples in Victoria.
Yoorrook is calling for responses to Issues Papers on the two focus areas by November 21, ahead of public hearings commencing on December 5.
The December hearings will include evidence from about 40 witnesses, who will provide insights into the harm done to First Peoples by unjust laws and practices within the criminal justice and child protection systems and the reasons why governments are yet to make change.
Commissioner Sue-Anne Hunter, Deputy Chair of the Yoorrook Justice Commission, said:
“From Yoorrook’s inception, First Peoples’ Elders and community leaders have called on the Commission to focus attention on the critical areas of criminal justice and child protection.
“The harm inflicted on the Stolen Generation continues to traumatise our people, yet record numbers of First Peoples’ children are being taken from their families – at a rate 20 times greater than non-Aboriginal kids. Too many children are still separated from kin, Country and culture as a result of detrimental policies and practices. We are seeing a new Stolen Generation happening before our eyes.
“Three decades have passed since the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody, yet Aboriginal people are still being imprisoned at 14 times the rate of non-Indigenous Victorians. More than 500 Aboriginal people nationally have died in custody since that inquiry, which was supposed to be a catalyst for changing First Peoples’ interactions with the criminal justice system.
“The seeming inability or unwillingness to change these systems is the unfinished business the Yoorrook Justice Commission will focus on in the next phase of its inquiry.
“By telling the truth about the criminal justice and child protection systems and holding those in power to account, we can create a fairer Victoria where everyone has the same chance to thrive.
“Yoorrook will continue taking submissions and hearing truths about all other injustices affecting First Peoples in parallel with the work on criminal justice and child protection, but we want to make sure that these critical issues are highlighted for urgent attention. Our community has waited long enough for change.”
Submissions responding to the issues papers can be made via the submission portal on the Yoorrook website.
Yoorrook’s public hearings will be livestreamed on the Yoorrook website from December 5.
Media inquiries: Evan Schuurman, Senior Media Advisor, 0408 847 385, [email protected]
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