‘Our stories not only deserve to be heard, they deserve to be believed’

The lack of public consensus of our state’s history has always been a roadblock to achieving a shared understanding between First Peoples and the broader Victorian community.

Our people have endured violence and injustice since colonisation and into the modern day, and we continue to have to justify our outrage. Our stories not only deserve to be heard; they deserve to be believed.

Truth-telling will be at the heart of the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission.Credit:Joe Armao

For those of us who are in the privileged position to advocate for our people and enact change, the biggest barrier continues to be the questions surrounding the legitimacy of our struggle. That is why the search for truth and justice is vital.

We must set the record straight so that all parties who are involved in our nation leading work towards Treaty can enter discussions with the true knowledge of our state’s sorry history.

The work of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria is to lead the state’s journey towards Treaty. The strength of the assembly’s voice was demonstrated in March with the announcement of the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission.

Achieving truth and justice is in the capable hands of chair Professor Eleanor Bourke and her follow commissioners who will lead the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission. These commissioners bring a wealth of experience and a history of passionately advocating for truth and justice for Aboriginal people from across the nation.

The Victorian government has agreed with the request of the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria to establish the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission with the powers of a royal commission. The status of a royal commission will empower the commissioners to engage in work that will reshape the way we look at our state.

When I look back on the history of my own ancestors, I feel this commission is a chance for healing. My grandmother who participated in the Cummeragunja Walk-Off, my grandfather who died while living on the Cummeragunja Mission, and my mother who moved our family six times to protect us from joining the stolen generations, will all finally receive justice. There’s also the trauma my family and I carry from hearing and sharing their stories.

As the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria continues its work towards Treaty, we are honoured to work in parallel with the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission.

We look forward to creating a strong working relationship with the commission, beginning with providing them our recommendations on areas to investigate based on our consultations with community. While the commission’s recommendations will help to inform our negotiations with the Victorian government.

We believe the findings will be integral to achieve the recognition and respect that Aboriginal Victorians have always deserved.

There can be no self-determination without Treaty. And there can be no Treaty without truth.

Most Viewed in National

From our partners

Source: Read Full Article