Criminal Justice System

Gum leaves in focus on a possum skin cloak at the Yoorrook hearing room with the Commissioners chairs out of focus behind them
Yoorrook Commissioners presenting the Yoorrook for justice report in their hands with the Yoorrook shield behind them
Yoorrook Commissioners presenting the Yoorrook for justice report
Alan Thorpe, Dardi Munwurro, Nakia Firebrace, VACCA, Karin Williams, VACSAL, and Coree Thorpe, Dardi Munwurro
Alan Thorpe, Dardi Munwurro, Nakia Firebrace, VACCA, Karin Williams, VACSAL, and Coree Thorpe, Dardi Munwurro
Meena Singh, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People appearing at a Yoorrook hearing
Meena Singh, Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People
Aunty Geraldine Atkinson appear behind a microphone at a Yoorrook Justice Commission hearing
Aunty Geraldine Atkinson

Injustice in the criminal justice system 

The Yoorrook Justice Commission is looking into the criminal justice system as part of the truth telling process in Victoria.

For First Peoples, the criminal justice system has long been a site of systemic injustice. There is an unbroken line between the criminalisation of First Peoples’ resistance to dispossession at colonisation and the actions, laws and policies in the current criminal justice system.

On this page you will find some of the responses Yoorrook has received as part of its inquiry. If you want to contribute, please make a submission to the Yoorrook Justice Commission.

Dr Anita MacKay is a Senior Lecturer at La Trobe Law School. This submission covers rehabilitation and restorative justice, the lack of implementation of recommendations from previous Royal Commissions, justice reinvestment, the provision of communication assistance to vulnerable First Nations defendants in criminal trials, and the prohibition of solitary confinement of children in detention.
This submission details the experiences of Briony, a 15 year old Aboriginal girl who lives in Victoria with her two parents and older sister. She has been diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and significant learning difficulties. Briony’s story highlights key issues with the education system and the impacts of police using personal safety intervention orders against Aboriginal children with disabilities.
Thomas Beckhurt is a proud Yorta Yorta man who was a spokesman for Kooris in custody during the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody. He made this submission to the Yoorrook Justice Commission to “show how Aboriginal prisoners are discriminated against and how [they] receive worse medical treatment than other prisoners.”

Criminal Justice System reports, hearings and evidence

View the reports, hearings and evidence Yoorrook collected during the investigation into the criminal justice system.

Yoorrook for justice

The report details extensive systemic injustice, racism, discriminatory laws and policy failures that have, and continue to, cause harm to First Peoples. It highlights that present injustice has deep roots in the colonial foundations of the state.

The report makes landmark recommendations about self-determination for First Peoples in Victoria. First Peoples must have decision-making power, authority, control and resources in the child protection and criminal justice systems as these relate to them. The Victorian Government must uphold its commitment to self-determination through negotiation under the treaty process.

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Criminal Justice System

News, Stories and Videos

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News & Stories
16 May 2024

Victoria Police commit to change

Victoria Police announces its commitment to 79 reforms in response to Yoorrook Justice Commission recommendations at the unveiling of the Yoorrook shield
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Videos
10 October 2023

Yoorrook for Justice: Report into Victoria’s Child Protection and Criminal Justice Systems

Following a 12-month inquiry, the ‘Yoorrook for Justice: Report into Victoria’s Child Protection and Criminal Justice Systems’ details extensive systemic injustice, racism, discriminatory laws and policy failures that have, and continue to, cause harm to First Peoples. The report and a full list of recommendations can be found here: www.yoorrookforjustice.org.au
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Videos
6 June 2023

Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police apologises to First Peoples

On behalf of Victoria Police, Chief Commissioner Shane Patton APM apologised “unreservedly” to First Peoples for police actions since colonisation and continuing to the present day. In a hearing at the Yoorrook Justice Commission, the Chief Commissioner said that “as a result of systemic racism, racist attitudes and discriminatory policies of police,’ injustices had “gone undetected, unchecked and unpunished.” He
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Videos
6 June 2023

Tony McAvoy SC questions the Minister for Police about injustices experienced by First Peoples at the hands of police

Yoorrook Senior Counsel Assisting and proud Wirdi man Tony McAvoy SC questioned Victoria’s Minister for Police, the Hon. Anthony Carbines MP, in hearings this month about injustices experienced by First Peoples at the hands of police. Minister Carbines accepted that, for many Aboriginal people, their experience of policing is one in which they are the subject of racial profiling and
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Videos
6 June 2023

Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People Meena Singh speaks about the meaning of First Peoples culture

Culture “wraps around you. It’s connected to family. It shapes your values, your ideals. To be Aboriginal is to know that you’re from strength, that you’re from resilience, that you’re part of the oldest cultures in the world.” Listen to Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People and Yorta Yorta woman Meena Singh speak about the importance of culture to

Other information