VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher submits evidence at Yoorrook Justice Commission public hearings 

Dec 8, 2022

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher submitted evidence at the Yoorrook Justice Commission’s hearings into systemic injustices in Victoria’s child protection and criminal justice systems in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Ms Gallagher provided a detailed and painful submission that pointed to appalling failings of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria in both the justice and child protection spaces.

Approximately 50 witnesses are set to provide evidence during the hearings, including representatives from Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations, service providers and experts.

VACCHO would like to pay tribute to Chair Professor Eleanor Bourke and the team at the Yoorrook Justice Commission for their staunch leadership, commitment, and dedication to uncovering the truth and seeking justice for Community.

At the hearing on Tuesday 6 December, Ms Gallagher said that she drew strength and inspiration from Aboriginal culture – and Elders past and present whilst providing her submission.

“I would like to thank the Yoorrook Justice Commission for giving me the opportunity to speak today. I would also like to pay tribute to Community members for their courage in coming forward to submit evidence in the next fortnight.”

“Having these conversations today stirred up a lot of emotions – but truth-telling is the only way forward for Community.”

“Disturbingly, last week’s Closing the Gap 2022 report showed that vital areas such as incarceration rates, suicide rates, and child-removal rates are getting worse.”

“It is abundantly clear that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people continue to be grossly failed by structures that should be protecting us. It feels like the Aboriginal flag is always flying at half-mast.”

“Deaths in custody continue to devastate community – leaving Aboriginal families to deal with the consequences of a system that continues to see members of our community imprisoned at rates disproportionate to those of the general population.”

“I am also extremely worried about the health and wellbeing of our Boorais (Children). How can we break the cycles of inequality if our future generation continue to be placed in out of home care.”

“The testimonies being delivered at the Yoorrook hearings will play an integral role in bringing us closer to truth and justice, meaningful structural reform – and on the pathway to breaking the cycles that have held back Community for over 250 years.”

All Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who experienced a systemic injustice within Victoria – can tell their truth by making a submission through Yoorrook’s online submission portal.

 

NOTE: Your social and emotional safety is important. If this has brought up any concerns or issues for you, please have a yarn with Yarnin Safe’n’Strong (1800 959 563) or 13YARN (13 32 16).

VACCHO CEO Jill Gallagher believes it is time to create a new day that is inclusive for everyone.

“It is time for us to press the reset button and create a new day – a new date – a day where we can all celebrate and feel included. January 26 is not that day – January 26 hurts.”

“Change needs to be led by Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, with our voices at the forefront, but we need allies around us, and we need a focus on educating all Australians about the true history of this country.”

“We also need a bold and brave government to make this change. Last year we saw the government listen to Aboriginal leaders and free the flag – we must keep the momentum going and do something about this date.”

“The time for change is well and truly overdue and needs to happen now.”

 

NOTE: Your social and emotional safety is important. If this article has brought up any concerns or issues for you, please have a yarn with Yarnin Safe’n’Strong (1800 959 563) or 13YARN (13 32 16).

Media enquiries

For further media enquiries please email communications@vaccho.org.au or contact our media unit on (03) 9411 9411.

Background 

VACCHO is the peak body for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander health and wellbeing in Victoria – the only one of its kind – with 32 Aboriginal Community Controlled Organisations as Members. VACCHO Members support over 65,000 Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people in Victoria, and combined are the largest employers of Aboriginal people in the state.