Yoo-rrook means ‘truth’ in the Wemba Wemba/Wamba Wamba language, which is spoken in the north-west region of Victoria.
This moment has been 233 years in the making, one that our Elders, leaders and ancestors have laid the groundwork for.
First Peoples in this country have been calling for a Truth-telling process for generations, and establishment of the Commission builds on this legacy of Aboriginal activism.
The Commission is expected to commence in July 2021 and will run for three years.
There can be no Treaty with TRUTH.
It is time for the true history of this country to be known.
Our people have been telling our stories and calling for Truth-telling since the beginning of colonisation.
For too long, we have been told to simply ‘get over the past’.
A past that saw our people massacred, our children removed, our languages wiped out, and our lands stolen and destroyed.
A past that continues to impact us to this day.
Routinely, our voices have been silenced and the true history of colonisation – our shared history – has been denied, covered up and erased.
But this is beginning to change.
Right now in Victoria, we are on the verge of making history.
On the 9th of March, the Victorian government heeded calls from the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria and the Aboriginal community and committed to a Truth-telling process for Victoria backed with the strength of a Royal Commission (read media release).
You might ask, what is Truth-telling?
Truth-telling is a process of openly sharing historical truths after periods of conﬂict.
Truth-telling works to recognise historic wrongs, address ongoing injustices, heal the wounds of the past and helps allow societies to move forward in a more inclusive way.
Truth and justice processes have been established all around the world. One of the most well-known examples is from South Africa, where, after Apartheid ended, a Truth and Reconciliation Commission was established and became a major part of South Africa’s transition to democracy.
In Victoria, a Truth-telling process will recognise past and ongoing injustices that have been ignored and hidden for too long and help provide a roadmap for addressing them.
Significantly, this Truth-telling process will begin before Victoria embarks on historic Treaty negotiations. This means that, unlike past inquiries and Royal Commissions across Australia – recommendations from this process have the potential to be backed up by Treaty.
To be successful, Truth-telling must be led by the voices of the Aboriginal community every step of the way.
The truth may hurt, but it also heals.
Increasingly, Australians are acknowledging the limits of how our history has been told and are joining our community’s calls for change.
We see this in the tens of thousands of people walking beside us on 26 January.
We see it in the growing awareness and support for the Black Lives Matter movement and calls to end Aboriginal deaths in custody.
We see it in calls to change school curriculums to better reflect our colonial past or moves to return the names of places and landmarks in Victoria to their true language names.
This is only the beginning.
We believe a Truth-telling process will reset relationships between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and help unite all people in Victoria.
It will give us a greater connection to, and knowledge of, our shared history – creating real pathways to justice, healing and reconciliation.
There can be no Treaty without Truth.
Stand with us.
We’re asking all Australians to walk with us on this journey and no longer hear only one side of history.
For more information, visit firstpeoplesvic.org
Contributing author – The First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria are the democratically-elected voice for Aboriginal people in the Victorian Treaty process.