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Truth and Justice in Victoria

Victoria’s truth and justice process will recognise and address historic and ongoing injustices and form a key part of the Treaty process.

The Yoorrook Justice Commission is investigating historical and ongoing injustices committed against Aboriginal Victorians since colonisation, across all areas of social, political and economic life.

Aboriginal Victorians have been clear and consistent in the call for truth-telling as an essential part of the Treaty process. In June 2020, the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria (Assembly) passed a resolution seeking commitment from the State to establish a truth and justice process. In response, in July 2020 the Victorian Government committed to working with the Assembly to formally establish a truth and justice process.

In working towards Treaty, the Victorian Government is committed to acknowledging the truth of Victoria’s history and laying the foundations for new, positive relationships between the State, Aboriginal Victorians and non-Aboriginal Victorians, which all Victorians can benefit from.

What is truth-telling?

It is widely acknowledged among First Peoples in Australia that we cannot talk about our shared future until we acknowledge our shared past. Through decades of activism, First Peoples have fought for truth-telling, to recognise the impacts of colonisation and address historic and ongoing injustices.

Truth commissions offer a formal and legitimate process for this to happen. Establishing a formal truth-telling process will assist reconciliation and healing for people harmed and their communities. 

The Yoorrook Justice Commission 

For generations Aboriginal Victorians have consistently called upon successive Governments to establish a formal truth-telling entity. Following months of work in partnership with the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, the Victorian Government established the Yoorrook Justice Commission as the nation’s first formal truth-telling process.

On 12 May 2021, the Governor of Victoria signed the letters patent, as required under the Inquiries Act 2014, to legally establish the Yoorrook Justice Commission as a Royal Commission and set its Terms of Reference.

Yoorrook is the Wemba Wemba / Wamba Wamba word for ‘truth’.

The Commission operates independently from government and is different to any other Royal Commission or inquiry undertaken in Australia, because of its unique truth-telling purpose.

Its work promises to bring about real change by:

  • facilitating truth-telling and healing
  • educating the wider Victorian community
  • developing recommendations for institutional and legal reform.

The Commission delivered its first interim report in June 2022. The Yoorrook for Justice interim report was released in August 2023 and the government responded in April 2024. 

A further Interim Report is due in March 2025. The Yoorrook Justice Commission will run until 30 June 2025 after being granted a 12-month extension.

More information about the Commission is available on the Yoorrook Justice Commission website. 

The Commissioners 

The Yoorrook Justice Commissioners leading the Commission are:

  • Chair Professor Eleanor Bourke AM
  • Deputy Chair Adjunct Professor Sue-Anne Hunter
  • Commissioners:
    • Travis Lovett
    • Distinguished Professor Maggie Walter
    • The Hon Anthony North KC.

The Commissioners bring a vast range of knowledge and experience to the Commission’s work, across the fields of sociology and systemic disadvantage, land rights, history, trauma and healing.

Treaty and Truth 

Establishment of the Yoorrook Justice Commission builds on Victoria’s nation-leading work on Treaty, and the Victorian Government’s commitment in 2018 to address historic and ongoing injustices through the Treaty process.

Reckoning with past injustice is an integral part of the Victorian Treaty process and is a requirement of the Treaty negotiation framework under section 30(3) of the Advancing the Treaty Process with Aboriginal Victorians Act 2018. Truth-telling lays the foundation for Treaty with a shared understanding and creation of a public record.

The Commission may make recommendations for institutional and legal reforms that could be considered in future Treaty negotiations, and recommendations about particular subject matters that should be included in a treaty or treaties with the State.

It may also make recommendations about appropriate redress for systemic injustice that could be implemented through the Treaty process. 

State response to the Yoorrook Justice Commission 

Victoria is the first jurisdiction to have actioned the Treaty and Truth elements of the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

The State is committed to open and genuine engagement with the Yoorrook Justice Commission.

The Department of Premier and Cabinet coordinates the whole-of-government State response to the Commission. This coordinated approach ensures the Government’s response to and engagement with the Commission aligns with the State’s commitment to transparency throughout the Treaty process and assists the Commission to achieve its truth-telling objectives.  

The government responded to the Commission's second interim report, Yoorrook for Justice, in April 2024.

Victorian Government response to Yoorrook for Justice report

For more information on the Government’s response to the Yoorrook Justice Commission, contact

Letters Patent

The formal document that established Yoorrook is called the Letters Patent. The Letters Patent were issued on 12 May 2021, with several amendments passed afterwards. The Letters Patent provide the rules for what the Commission can and cannot do.

An archive of Yoorrook's Letters Patent and amendments is available on the Yoorrook Justice Commission website.