Community leader Professor Eleanor Bourke will chair Victoria’s Australia-first inquiry into injustices committed against Indigenous people.
The Wergaia/Wamba Wamba elder will head the five people who will run the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission.
Dr Wayne Atkinson, Ms Sue-Anne Hunter, Distinguished Professor Maggie Walter and Professor Kevin Bell QC were also announced as commissioners.
The inquiry will look at historic and ongoing injustices and is named after the Wemba Wemba-Wamba Wamba word for “truth”.
The inquiry will be independent of government and have the powers of a royal commission.
It will recommend reforms and will help guide the state’s treaty negotiations with communities.
“I feel, for this century, this was a logical step for us,” Prof Bourke said at Friday’s announcement.
“People are watching us … (I start) with some trepidation. I didn’t sleep very well last night, but we just need to get on with that.”
The announcement was made at Melbourne’s Yarra Bend Park.
It was the site of the Merri Creek Protectorate Sate and Merri Creek Aboriginal School, where many Aboriginal communities were separated from their lands.
Acting Premier James Merlino said the commission had a big job ahead.
“It is daunting, it is nation-leading,” he said.
Next week’s state budget will set aside $58 million for the commission.
First People’s Assembly of Victoria Co-Chair Marcus Stewart said 64 people had applied for the five commission places.
“What we have in front of us is an amazing opportunity for all Victorians, but most importantly, it marks a day for our community, our mob in Victoria.”
The commission will deliver an interim report by June 30 next year and a final report by June 30, 2024.