Yoorrook acknowledges introduction of new child protection legislation

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February 21, 2023

The Yoorrook Justice Commission today acknowledges the proposed reintroduction of legislation that would expand the role of Aboriginal agencies delivering children and family services in Victoria.

The Children and health legislation amendment (statement of recognition, Aboriginal self-determination and other matters) bill would allow for greater information sharing between government and Aboriginal led organisations.

Sue-Anne Hunter, Deputy Chair and Commissioner of the Yoorrook Justice Commission and a child and family services practitioner said:

“During hearings in December, Yoorrook heard from Aboriginal leaders who talked about the failings of Victoria’s child protection system and the devastating lifelong impacts of child removal – on the child, their family and Community.

“We heard about the lack of understanding and respect amongst child protection staff for Aboriginal family structures and approaches to raising children, and the strength that being raised in family and community gives Aboriginal children.  We heard that too often, child protection staff are quick to jump to removing children, because Aboriginal families do not always fit white, middle-class assumptions.

“We heard witness after witness call for genuine self-determination for First Peoples, and reform of the child protection system to address the injustices faced by our people.

“Yoorrook will continue to investigate the underlying issues that have led to Aboriginal children being removed in large numbers as we make recommendations for systemic reform.”

Yoorrook will hold two rounds of public hearings between February 27 and March 31 as part of its inquiry into the systemic injustices experienced by First Peoples in Victoria’s criminal justice and child protection systems.

The Commission will produce a critical issues report in mid-2023 to detail its findings and make recommendations to the Victorian Government for reform.


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