Yoorrook calls for transformation of child protection system
The Sector > Research > Allied Fields > Yoorrook report calls for transformation of Victoria’s child protection system

Yoorrook report calls for transformation of Victoria’s child protection system

by Freya Lucas

September 14, 2023

The Yoorrook Justice Commission has called on the Victorian Government to transform Victoria’s child protection and criminal justice systems to address systemic injustice against First Peoples. 


A report, Yoorrook for Justice: Report into Victoria’s Child Protection and Criminal Justice Systems, was tabled in Parliament recently, making 46 recommendations for reform.  


The report details extensive systemic injustice, racism, discriminatory laws and policy failures that have, and continue to, cause harm to First Peoples. It highlights that present injustice has deep roots in the colonial foundations of the state.  


It also makes landmark recommendations about self-determination for First Peoples in Victoria, outlining that First Peoples must have decision-making power, authority, control and resources in the child protection and criminal justice systems as these relate to them. 


Yoorrook also recommends:  


  • Negotiating through treaty new, dedicated legislation, developed by First Peoples, for the safety, wellbeing and protection of First Peoples children and young people  
  • Creating a new independent police oversight body to end the practice of police investigating police complaints  
  • Changes to bail laws that go beyond amendments recently introduced to Parliament to stop people being unnecessarily imprisoned  
  • Raising the minimum age of criminal responsibility to 14 years without exceptions  
  • Prohibiting routine strip searching in all Victorian adult and youth prisons  
  • Ensuring and strengthening human and cultural rights.     


“Decades on from the Stolen Generations, the Victorian Government is removing First Peoples children at the highest rate in Australia,” said Chair of the Commission and proud Wergaia/Wamba Wamba Elder Professor Eleanor Bourke AM.


“Despite commitments to do the opposite, the rate at which the Victorian Government is imprisoning Aboriginal people has increased significantly over the past decade.” 


“Yoorrook heard seven formal apologies from Ministers, senior public servants and the Chief Commissioner of Victoria Police for the historic and ongoing harm caused by Victoria’s child protection and criminal justice systems against our people. Their words were important but the real test is the actions they take now,” Professor Bourke AM said.  


“There has been some progress since Yoorrook started this inquiry. However, small steps are not enough. Self-determination and systemic reform are needed, including in relation to human and cultural rights. This report must be a catalyst for transformative change. The foundations for change have been laid in Victoria through truth and treaty. Now is the time for action.”  


Over the course of its inquiry into child protection and criminal justice over the past year, Yoorrook held 27 hearing days with 84 witnesses, undertook 12 roundtable discussions across Victoria, received over 100 submissions, made five adult and youth prison visits and received over 4,000 government documents in response to its notices to produce evidence.   


Access the full list of recommendations here. Yoorrook for Justice: Report into Victoria’s Child Protection and Criminal Justice Systems can be downloaded here: yoorrookforjustice.org.au

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