First Nations/
Yoorrook: A conversation with the Commissioners.

Text: 'Yoorrook'

Wednesday 30th August 2023

Seminar | 4:45 PM-6:00 PM


Join Yoorrook Commissioners, Professor Eleanor Bourke AM and Professor the Honourable Kevin Bell AM KC, as they discuss the Commission’s ongoing work following the second round of hearings held earlier this year.

Last year, counsel for the Commission discussed their work helping Aboriginal witnesses give testimony before this historic, first-of-its-kind truth-telling commission. Judicial officers learned about the importance of providing a culturally safe atmosphere and process and how to create both. This year, we will hear from the Commissioners themselves as they discuss their ongoing work following their second round of hearings held in 2023.

The Commissioners will address:

  • The role of Commissioners in a truth telling commission and the importance of listening and gathering stories to establish an official record
  • Truth telling about the child protection system and the criminal justice system, including what Yoorrook has heard
  • The role of truth telling in enhancing government accountability.

The session will include video footage from the Commission and will foreshadow the next phase of the Inquiry


Julie Buxton, Barrister
Julie Buxton is a human rights lawyer and adviser. She has studied international models of truth-telling and reconciliation and has worked with the United Nations’ Serious Crimes Unit in Timor-Leste and at the Regional Consultation on Transitional Justice for Asia-Pacific. She was an adviser to Victoria’s Commissioner for Aboriginal Children and Young People and the Koori Justice Unit.
Wergaia/Wamba Wamba Elder, Commissioner and Chair
Professor Eleanor Bourke AM
Professor Eleanor Bourke is a Wergaia/Wamba Wamba Elder and Chair of the Yoorrook Justice Commission. Professor Bourke has over four decades of leadership experience and dedication to advancing Aboriginal education and communities. She has held executive positions in state and federal government agencies, including Co-Chair of Reconciliation Victoria, Victorian Aboriginal Heritage Council Board Member and Board Member of Native Title Services Victoria where she participated in Victoria’s first positive native title determination for the Wotjobaluk, Wergaia, Jardwa, Jardwajarli and Japagulk peoples. Previously Professor of Aboriginal and Islander Studies, Director of Aboriginal Programs at Monash University, Associate Professor and Director of the Aboriginal Research Institute in the South Australia University, an inductee into the Victorian Honour Roll for Women and the Victorian Aboriginal Honour Roll and recently awarded Member of the Order of Australia in 2022.
Commissioner and former Judge of the Supreme Court
Professor the Honourable Kevin Bell AM KC
Professor the Honourable Kevin Bell AM KC is a non-Aboriginal Victorian and is a Commissioner for the Yoorrook Justice Commission. Professor Bell was a Justice of the Supreme Court of Victoria for 15 years. He played a pivotal role in the implementation and operation of the Victorian Charter of Human Rights and Responsibilities Act 2006. He served as President of the Victorian Civil and Administrative Appeals Tribunal between 2008 and 2010. Prior to his judicial appointment, Professor Bell practised as a Barrister at the Victorian Bar for 20 years, eight years of which he served as Queen’s Counsel. During his time at the bar, he worked on leading native title cases, as well as leading human rights, administrative law, constitutional law, and industrial law cases. In 2017, he received the award of Member of the Order of Australia for his ‘significant service to the law and to the judiciary, to native title and human rights, and the community.’ He is a former Director of the Castan Centre for Human Rights Law.

Event resources.

  • External Link

    Yoorrook: A conversation with the Commissioners recording.

    In 2023, the College hosted Yoorrook Commissioners, Professor Eleanor Bourke AM and Professor the Honourable Kevin Bell AM KC, for an in-depth discussion on the Commission’s ongoing work, delving into developments following the second round of hearings. A recording of this event is now available for viewing.
    View Now