Empowering our clients is a core part of VALS’ purpose. Empowering our clients is crucial to breaking the generational impacts of invasion and colonisation.
Today VALS made our first two submissions, known as nuther-mooyoop, to the Yoorrook Justice Commission and we are proud to contribute the experiences, and the demands for reforms to the criminal legal system and the child protection system, of our clients.
We work with so many clients who are trapped in the criminal legal system or neglected by the child protection system. They are punished for the failings of society and government. They are taken away from their families, community and culture. Their communities are overpoliced and starved of resources. They don’t have access to secure housing or incomes. They don’t have access to the health and education services they need. They face systemic racism and abuse every day.
Our clients want the criminal legal system and child protection system reformed so that they can have the same opportunities as everyone else. They want self-determination for Aboriginal Communities. True self-determination where our communities have the power to make decisions and have the resources to implement those decisions.
We have made over 120 recommendations across both submissions. Most urgently, we are asking the Victorian Government to implement our Plan for Aboriginal Justice in Victoria immediately as a signal of intent that they are committed to the deep, transformational change that is needed.
The urgent reforms we need are raising the age of criminal responsibility, reforming bail laws, committing to a zero prison population target, establishing independent oversight of police and prisons, reforming the child protection system, and decriminalising public intoxication and the possession of drugs for personal use.
VALS has also recommended that the Victoria Government extend Yoorrook’s deadline and provide more resources so that our people can engage with Yoorrook in a culturally safe way. The deadline to submit these nuther-mooyoop was very short and many voices will not have been able to contribute this time.
You can read our nuther-mooyoop on our website at:
- Nuther-mooyoop to the Yoorrook Justice Commission: Child Protection
- Nuther-mooyoop to the Yoorrook Justice Commission: Criminal Legal System
Quotes Attributable to Nerita Waight, CEO of VALS
“VALS always stands with our clients and works to amplify their voices. We’re proud to share their calls for reform with Yoorrook through our nuther-mooyoop.”
“Our people maintain the oldest continuous culture on earth. We are strong. Our culture is strong. But the ongoing legacy of invasion and colonisation continue to impact our people. We need to reform the criminal legal and child protection systems so that our people, families and communities can thrive by being strong in our culture.”
“We need true self-determination for Aboriginal Communities. We need transformation of systems so that they support individuals and communities – instead of traumatising and criminalising people who are not white men.”
“Yoorrook needs more time and resources to properly fulfill its mandate. You cannot rush the healing process after 235 years on invasion and colonisation. Every Aboriginal person must be given a real opportunity to participate in Yoorrook if they want to.”
“We want Yoorrook to lead to the change our clients demand. Government must listen to the evidence our communities testify to and enable our communities to implement the reforms we decide on.”