Unfinished Business? The Victorian Yoo-rrook Justice Commission and Truth-Telling in Australia

Image of the skyline of Melbourne, Australia

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have long explained that the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians can only be improved through a comprehensive process of truth-telling. In 2021, the Victorian government responded to these calls by establishing the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission. Designed in partnership with the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, the Commission is Australia’s first formal truth-telling process.

This Case outlines the history and structure of the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission and its connection to the broader issues of recognition of Indigenous Peoples such as a Treaty and the Uluru Statement from the Heart.

Truth commissions can be valuable mechanisms to develop a shared understanding of the historic and contemporary injustices perpetrated against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples since the start of colonisation. Enhancing awareness and recognition among non-Indigenous Australians may also be key to generating legal and political reform that will lead to a more equitable future.

For this to occur two lessons should be borne in mind. First, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples must take a leading role in the development and design of any truth-telling process. Second, truth-telling processes cannot by themselves lead to reform. Governments should demonstrate their commitment to transform the relationship between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians by embedding a truth commission in a larger process of political and legal reform, such as that outlined in the Uluru Statement from the Heart. The Yoo-rrook Justice Commission in Victoria has emerged organically out of the State’s treaty process. This improves the likelihood that any recommendations will be acted upon.

Please note this case has a Teaching Note associated with it. To access a copy, please email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. with a request and citing the title.

  • Authors: Harry Hobbs
  • Published Date: 03 March 2022
  • Author Institution: University of Technology Sydney
  • Featured Content Length: 10
  • Content Length: 10
  • Product Type: One-part case

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.