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Yoo-rrook truth and justice commission frustrated at COVID go-slow

Australia’s first inquiry into the impacts of colonisation on First Nations people continues to be delayed by COVID-related setbacks.

Victoria’s Yoo-rrook Justice Commission was due to begin community consultations across the state in August but has repeatedly been impeded by extensions of the latest lockdown.

Professor Eleanor Bourke, chair of the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission.

Professor Eleanor Bourke, chair of the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission.Credit:Martin Burnett/Little Rocket

Commission chair Eleanor Bourke recently told The Age the body was “actually feeling quite frustrated by the conditions we find ourselves in”.

However, it was pressing on with weekly online meetings via video calls and doing what it could until the lockdown ended.

“You know what it’s like if … you’ve got a job to do: you want to be sitting down talking through how you’re going to get on with it and who’s going to do what and when certain things are going to happen, and we just haven’t got through that. We got about halfway through [before the latest lockdown].”

The group was continuing to meet with traditional owner groups and others.

“We’re continuing with … introductory consultations with groups, wanting to introduce ourselves,” Ms Bourke said.

In an online event on Tuesday, the commission officially accepted the First Peoples’ Assembly’s Tyerri Yoo-rrook report, which was the culmination of consultations with the Aboriginal community around the state and provided the commission with a mandate to proceed with its inquiry.

Gunai-Gunditjmara man Troy McDonald, co-chair of the assembly’s truth-telling committee, said the report would set the outline for work to be done over the next three years, including “what sort of stories needed to be told, how broad the inquiry’s focus should be and how it should be led”.

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