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.