Victoria Premier to Testify at Indigenous Truth-Telling Inquiry

Victorian Premier Jacinta Allan to testify at Australia's first Indigenous-led truth-telling inquiry, Yoorrook Justice Commission, as part of the state's treaty process with First Peoples.

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Mahnoor Jehangir
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Victoria Premier to Testify at Indigenous Truth-Telling Inquiry

Victoria Premier to Testify at Indigenous Truth-Telling Inquiry

Jacinta Allan, the Premier of Victoria, Australia, is set to testify at the Yoorrook Justice Commission, the country's first Indigenous-led truth-telling inquiry. Allan will be the first head of government to appear before such an inquiry when she takes the stand on Monday, April 29, 2024. The hearing, originally scheduled to take place at the site of the Coranderrk Aboriginal Mission near Healesville, has been moved to Melbourne.

The Yoorrook Justice Commission is part of Victoria's treaty process and is investigating the historical and ongoing impacts of colonialism on First Peoples in the state. Allan said the failure of the voice referendum last year has strengthened her resolve to "present the facts" about the impacts of colonization and the inequalities faced by First Nations people in Victoria.

Why this matters: The Yoorrook Justice Commission constitutes a meaningful step in Australia's efforts to address the injustices and disadvantages faced by Indigenous communities. As the first Indigenous-led truth-telling inquiry in the country, its findings could have extensive implications for the relationship between the government and First Peoples, as well as for the ongoing treaty process in Victoria.

The Victorian government has accepted 28 of the commission's 46 interim recommendations, is considering 15 more, and has rejected three outright. The rejected recommendations relate to increasing the legal age of criminal liability, changing bail laws, and amendments to the Charter of Human Rights. Human rights advocates have criticized the government's response, saying it has missed an opportunity to support transformational change in the criminal justice system called for by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, communities, and organizations.

Allan will face questions from the commission on matters related to revenue and royalties around state resources. Witnesses to the commission have included Water Minister Harriet Shing and Environment Minister Lily D'Ambrosio, who revealed that no royalties from an estimated $287.4 billion in gold mined in the state since colonization have gone to traditional owners. Allan has expressed support for incorporating the commission's work into the state's education curriculum.

The Premier has not committed to a timeline for settling a treaty, stating it will be guided by the parties at the negotiation table. The commission's findings are expected to inform the claims and proposals in treaty negotiations between the state and the First Peoples' Assembly. The Yoorrook Justice Commission is expected to release its final report in 2025.

Key Takeaways

  • Victoria's Premier to testify at first Indigenous-led truth-telling inquiry in Australia.
  • Inquiry investigating historical and ongoing impacts of colonialism on First Peoples.
  • Government accepted 28 of 46 interim recommendations, rejected 3 related to criminal justice.
  • Premier to face questions on resource revenue and royalties not going to traditional owners.
  • Inquiry's findings expected to inform treaty negotiations between state and First Peoples.