This week, it was announced that the Victorian government had established a Truth and Justice Process that would “formally recognise historic wrongs and address ongoing justices for Aboriginal Victorians.”
The goal of a truth and justice commission is to reflect on the past, reveal what happened so that the truth can be found and a common historical record can be achieved.
The Victorian government has commissioned a Truth and Justice Process for Aboriginal Victorians to uncover the past, properly say sorry, and inspire reconciliation.
While Victoria is the first state in Australia to have a commission, more than 40 countries including South Africa, Canada, and New Zealand have already seen the successes of theirs.
Victoria’s commission has been designed and led by the People’s Assembly of Victoria alongside its Bangerang Wiradjuri co-chair, Geraldine Atkinson. Together, they are aiming to introduce treaties with Aboriginal nations and foster ongoing justice for Victorian Aboriginals.
In an interview, Atkinson explained that “there are things that we haven’t been able to talk about…”
“We haven’t talked about the frontier wars. We haven’t talked about the massacres. We haven’t talked about displacement; you know about the policies of protection and assimilation.”
She expressed that the commission means we’re finally “ready to really talk about the over-incarceration of our mobs in prisons, and deaths in custody. So there’s a whole range of things that we want to be able to talk to community about and get their understanding, and see if it’s those sorts of things they want to explore during this truth-telling process.”
If all Australian states took Victoria’s lead, then perhaps Morrison never would have made his ignorant comment about Australian having “no history of slavery.”
Just like Atkinson said, these kinds of commissions “will help shape and create a more equitable society that brings pride to all Victorians.”