The Greens today welcomed the announcement of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission in Victoria – a historical opportunity for First Nations people to tell the truth of the history of violent dispossession from their land.
It comes as Senator for Victoria Lidia Thorpe, then Greens MP for Northcote, called in 2018 for “funding (to) be provided for a process of truth-telling about the true history of Victoria”, as truth-telling needs to be a central part of any Treaty process.
Truth and Justice Commissions have been held across the world in the aftermath of grave and often racially motivated injustices being carried out by governments.
The Greens believe the forthcoming Elders Council is well-placed to provide cultural governance and oversight over this important process, as First Nations people must be given complete agency over how the Commission is run. The Commission must also be representative of all 38 nations in this state.
If successful, a Truth Commission of this kind could also set an important precedent for similar Commissions in other jurisdictions, and at the national level.
“We can’t move forward as a country until we reckon with the truth about our history,” Senator Thorpe said today.
“When the colonisers invaded, there was a war on these lands – a war that hasn’t ended. But we won’t achieve peace without truth. The announcement of a Truth Commission today is a historic opportunity to bring people together to open up the possibility of a genuine Treaty process, not just in Victoria, but across this country.”
Senator Thorpe also reaffirmed the Greens’ earlier calls for a moratorium on all sales of Crown land until a genuine Treaty has been signed.
“Victoria’s treaty process has been a pretty token gesture so far. If Labor is serious about justice for our first peoples, they will also agree to a moratorium on logging while the Commission does its work. You can’t be serious about telling the truth about our ongoing connection to these lands and waters, as you keep destroying it,” Senator Thorpe added.
“For too long the history of this Country has been white-washed, and the voices of First Nations people have been relegated to the margins,” Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC said today.
“Hopefully this Commission is the first of many steps towards changing that. This is a direct result of years of community campaigning for truth-telling and First Nations justice,” Ms Ratnam added.