CENTRAL Victorians will have an opportunity to contribute to an Australian-first commission into Aboriginal truth-telling, a new commissioner says.
The state government established the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission earlier this year, with the commission's purpose to investigate the injustices experienced by Aboriginal people since colonisation.
Yorta Yorta and Dja Dja Wurrung elder Dr Wayne Atkinson has been appointed as one of the five commissioners. He said he was honoured to be selected.
"I'm very proud to be chosen on behalf of our people, and the Victorian community as a whole, to build bridges between First Peoples and the broader community, and to achieve better understanding in terms of past injustices that have taken place," Commissioner Dr Atkinson said.
"I acknowledge the great leaders of the past who were advocates for human rights. They influenced our generation.
"I have a special connection with some of those outstanding leaders of the time who inspired me to see the value of education.
"They also inspired me to keep the struggle going, in terms of achieving fair and just outcomes for our people."
The First Peoples' Assembly of Victoria, the first democratically-elected body of Indigenous people in the state's history, played a critical role in setting up the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission.
The commission, which has the powers of a Royal Commission, will work towards a range of objectives in the next three years.
They include establishing an official public record of experiences of Aboriginal Victorians since colonisation, and determining the causes and consequences of systemic injustices suffered by Aboriginal Victorians.
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Commissioner Dr Atkinson said there would be an opportunity for people in central Victoria to contribute to the investigations.
"The commission has a very important role in terms of consulting with the community and developing a relationship with the community," he said.
"It's also about gaining the trust, which is so important in regards to encouraging people to share their stories of the legacy of the systemic injustice.
"It's an educational process. The commission wants to work generally with the total population for a cultural awareness program and to develop a better understanding of the history that has unfolded."
Commissioner Dr Atkinson said the process would lead to a series of recommendations for redress and reform.
"It also aligns with the Treaty process," he said. "Without the truth-telling process, it's very difficult to have a Treaty."
The Yoo-rrook Justice Commission will begin its work in July, with an interim report due to be delivered in June next year.
The final report is expected to be delivered in June 2024.
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