Australia’s first formal truth-telling process into injustices experienced by Victoria’s Aboriginal community since colonisation, has found its Chief Executive Officer.
After an extensive recruitment process, Josh Smith, a proud Dunghutti man with a background in law, justice, and social policy was appointed as CEO to the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission.
Established by the Victorian Government and the First Peoples’ Assembly of Victoria, the Aboriginal-led truth and justice commission will investigate historical and ongoing injustices committed against Aboriginal Victorians by the State and non-State entities.
In a media statement, the Commission said, “Josh is a highly regarded leader who centres the experiences of First Peoples in his work, demonstrated through his extensive networks and relationships with First Peoples, communities and organisations”.
As CEO, it will be Mr Smith’s role to support the five newly appointed Yoo-rrook Commissioners, including Chair of the Commission Wergaia and Wamba Wamba Elder, Professor Eleanor Bourke.
Professor Bourke said, “Josh will be a driving force in providing strategic advice to Commissioners and will complement our skillsets. The appointment of the Chief Executive Officer is a key appointment for the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission’s truth-telling journey”.
Josh said, the process could be quite traumatic for people to tell their story again, as witnesses to the commission, there needs to be a system and healing process in place to support these people.
“My role is to ensure that the infrastructure around that is in place, so, making those connections out in community so people feel comfortable to come forward and tell their stories”.
“Employing the staff within the Commission so that this work can be done. Overseeing the research and policy agenda that underpins the work of Commissioners in their role in leading the Commission”.
The incoming CEO said, “I am immensely proud to be appointed as CEO of the Yoo-rrook Justice Commission and look forward to making a valuable contribution in this exciting and unprecedented role in an organisation and process that is at the precipice of significant change in Victoria”.
Josh Smith will commence his new role as CEO on 21 June 2021.