The truth telling commission’s Yoorrook for Justice: Report into Victoria’s Child Protection and Criminal Justice Systems, tabled in Parliament earlier 46 recommendations for reform.
The report details extensive systemic injustice, racism, discriminatory laws and policy failures that have, and continue to, cause harm to First Peoples. It highlights that present injustice has deep roots in the colonial foundations of the state.
During its inquiry, the Commission heard evidence of children being put on a path to the child protection system, and then the justice system, from the time they were born.
Commissioners were told deeply personal stories of the impact of police racism and brutality, of the harm of child removal, and of failures within Victoria’s prison system. Yoorrook heard evidence of gross human and cultural rights violations, past and ongoing, committed at the hands of the state.
The report makes landmark recommendations about self-determination for First Peoples in Victoria. First Peoples must have decision-making power, authority, control and resources in the child protection and criminal justice systems as these relate to them.
The Victorian Government must uphold its commitment to self-determination through negotiation under the treaty process.
Yoorrook also recommends:
Negotiating through treaty new, dedicated legislation, developed by First Peoples, for the safety, wellbeing and protection of First Peoples children and young people
Creating a new independent police oversight body to end the practice of police investigating police complaints .
Changes to bail laws that go beyond amendments recently introduced to Parliament to stop people being unnecessarily imprisoned .
Raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 years without exceptions.
Prohibiting routine strip searching in all Victorian adult and youth prisons Ensuring and strengthening human and cultural rights .
Over the course of its inquiry into child protection and criminal justice over the past year, Yoorrook held 27 hearing days with 84 witnesses, undertook 12 roundtable discussions across Victoria, received over 100 submissions, made five adult and youth prison visits and received over 4,000 government documents in response to its notices to produce evidence.