Yoorrook Justice Commission

Yoo-rrook means ‘truth’ in the Wemba Wemba/Wamba Wamba language, which is spoken in the north-west region of Victoria. Sue-Anne Hunter is one of five commissioners on the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission: the first truth-telling body to be established in Australia. Truth-telling is a process of openly sharing historical truths after periods of conflict. Truth-telling acknowledges human rights violations by promoting the voices of communities who have been victims of these violations. First Peoples in this country have been calling for a truth-telling process for generations. Sue-Anne's appointment comes with a strong sense of legacy, as she's a descendant of Annie Borate, sister of William Barak who was a powerful voice at the Coranderrk Inquiry in 1881. This was the first Commission in Victoria to address Indigenous calls for self-determination.

The five Yoo-rrook Justice Commissioners are:

  • Professor Eleanor Bourke (Chair) – a Wergaia/Wamba Wamba elder with decades of leadership and dedication to advancing Aboriginal education and cultural heritage.

  • Dr Wayne Atkinson – a Yorta Yorta/Dja Dja Wurrung Elder and Traditional Owner and accomplished academic with substantial knowledge and experience in human rights, land justice, cultural heritage and Koori oral history programs.

  • Ms Sue-Anne Hunter – a Wurundjeri and Ngurai illum Wurrung woman recognised as a leader in trauma and healing practices.

  • Distinguished Professor Maggie Walter – a Palawa (Tasmanian Aboriginal) woman descending from the Pairrebenne People of the North East Nation, and a Distinguished Professor of Sociology, and leading expert in systemic disadvantage, inequality and Indigenous Data Sovereignty.

  • Professor the Honourable Kevin Bell AM QC – the Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law in the Faculty of Law at Monash University and a former justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria.

The Commission’s key functions are to:

  • Establish an official record of the impact of colonisation on First Peoples in Victoria using First Peoples’ stories.

This will be done by inquiring into and reporting on historical systemic injustices perpetrated against First Peoples since colonisation (for example massacres, wars and genocide) as well as ongoing systemic injustices (for example policing, child protection and welfare matters, health, invasion of privacy and exclusion from economic, social and political life).

  • Make detailed recommendations about practical actions and reforms needed in Victoria.

The Commission will determine the causes and consequences of systemic injustices and who is responsible. The Commission is expected to make detailed recommendations for changes to laws, policy and education and the types of matters to be included in future Treaties. Its first report is expected by June 2022, with a final report by June 2024.