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Victoria's Truth Telling Commission

A joint statement between the Victorian government and the First Peoples' Assembly was released last week, announcing the establishment of the country's first Truth-Telling Commission. Known as the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission(the Wemba Wemba word for "truth") its purview will be to "investigate both historical and ongoing injustices committed against Aboriginal Victorians, across all areas of social, political, cultural and economic life."

The Commission will have all the powers of a Royal Commission, which begs the question: why not have a Royal Commission? The reason, of course, is that we've had Royal Commissions in the past. Truth Telling is something more than what a Royal Commission can uncover. 

First Peoples' Assembly Co-Chair Marcus Stewart told ABC's The Drum:

I suspect we’re going to hear stories of the Stolen Generation. I expect we’re going to hear stories of dispossession. I expect we’re going to hear stories about the massacres. We’re going to hear stories about Aboriginal deaths in custody and the overrepresentation of our people in the correctional setting and in child protection. 
Marcus Stewart, co-chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.

Marcus Stewart, co-chair of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria.

While it will be the first of its kind in the nation, other bodies have been established in other parts of the world such as New Zealand, Canada and South Africa, where they have been successful. They, and Victoria's model, are founded on the idea of restorative justice: the idea that past wrongdoing must be rectified with the community in mind, not just the individual. 

The Commission will be "independent of government, hold public hearings and be culturally sensitive to First People’s trauma."

You can read Marcus Stewart's perspective on what the Commission will mean to indigenous people, and the state of Victoria, here.

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