Fold mountains

Reach of Truth Continues in Vic | Blue Mountains Gazette

It is possible that Victoria’s Indigenous truth-telling process will continue to hear witnesses when the powers of its royal commission expire in two years.

Victoria’s Assembly of First Peoples co-chair Marcus Stewart on Thursday called on the state government to extend the Yoorrook Justice Commission for five to 10 years.

“How, in three years, do you unpack more than 200 years of colonization and its contemporary effects that it still has today and will have tomorrow?” said Mr. Stewart.

Indigenous Affairs Minister Gabrielle Williams, who testified on Friday, said the inquiry did not have to take the form of a royal commission and that there were “other options” available.

Yoorrook, Australia’s first truth commission, is building an official public record of Indigenous experiences since the start of settlement and began public hearings with elders last week.

Its final report is due in June 2024, with findings to guide the Treaty of Victoria negotiations.

“I guess what was attractive about a royal commission as a structure for this particular phase was the ability to demand information and such,” Ms Williams said.

“However, it must be said that it was always open to the commission itself to make recommendations on any need to have an ongoing or extended truth process.”

Ms Williams said the inquiry’s mandate had two parts: to create a record of the experiences of Indigenous peoples, and then to examine contemporary injustice and how reforms to address it could be incorporated into treaty negotiations.

It’s up to the commission, she said, to determine how deep they go into each part with the time available.

She also suggested the inquiry could look at how the historical aspect fits into “any future process you feel is necessary to do it justice”.

Yoorrook will submit an interim report next month.

Australian Associated Press