Yoorrook hearings: First Peoples to share stories of injustice within the criminal justice system

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

March 3, 2023

On Monday, the Yoorrook Justice Commission hearings will shift focus from the child protection system to injustices experienced by First Peoples in Victoria’s justice system.

Across the two-week hearing block, about 20 First Peoples witnesses will give evidence including those who have experienced systemic injustice themselves, individuals speaking on behalf of family, experts and community leaders.

Witnesses are expected to give evidence about the push to reform Victoria’s bail laws to stop people being unnecessarily imprisoned in pre-trial detention, Victoria’s low age of criminal responsibility, and police accountability and oversight.

The witness schedule can be found here.

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

“It is no secret that First Peoples are significantly over-represented in both the criminal justice and child protection systems. These hearings are about listening to First Peoples tell their story of these systems in their own words.

“Every witness and every story add to the body of evidence gathered by Yoorrook to make recommendations for change. Every voice is important, and I thank all the witnesses who have given evidence and those who are still to come.

“Next week we will hear from First Peoples speaking about their experiences of injustice within Victoria’s prisons, watch houses and the justice system more broadly. This will be supported by expert witnesses who work in the system and have a deep understanding of what needs to change fix the system for our people.

“Since the December hearings, the Government has made promising announcements including changes to public drunkenness laws, bail laws and reform of the child protection system. We will wait to see how these proposed changes are enacted and the extent to which they address the injustices and flaws in the system identified by witnesses.”

Yoorrook will hold a further round of hearings focused on the child protection and criminal justice systems from March 21 to 31, with representatives from the Victorian Government set to give evidence.

All Victorian First Peoples – or First Peoples who experienced a systemic injustice within Victoria – can continue to tell their truth about any ongoing or historic injustice 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

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