Systemic injustices against Indigenous people in Victoria are ongoing and “significant structural change” is needed to end them, according to the state’s Aboriginal Affairs Minister.

Gabrielle Williams last week addressed Victoria’s Yoorrook Justice Commission, candidly discussing the injustices towards First Nations people at the hands of government.

Ms Williams told the Commission injustices experienced by First Nations people acknowledged the intergenerational trauma caused by inequality.

“The colonisation and dispossession of first people of their lands and waters involved massacres, wars and extrajudicial violence, theft, rape and environmental degradation and desecration of cultural sites and the deliberate exclusion of first people from all areas of Victorian economic, social and political life,” she said.

“Injustices are ongoing, including the overrepresentation of first people in the justice and child protection systems, lack of cultural safety within health and education settings, and continued economic, social and political exclusion.

Victorian Minister for Aboriginal Affairs Gabrielle Williams. Photo supplied.

“The patterns of power, paternalism and racism that created and entrenched systemic injustices against first people sadly endure.”

First People’s Assembly of Victoria co-chair and Bangerang-Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Geraldine Atkinson said Ms Williams’ speech was hopefully a sign the government was committed to change.

“Never in my lifetime would I have imagined a government minister would so clearly detail the harms to our people caused by colonisation and at the hands of the State,” she said.

“Ultimately, Treaty is about addressing the racist legacies of invasion by making sure that our people can make the decisions that affect our lives.”

Assembly co-chair and Nira illim bulluk man Marcus Stewart said good progress had been made developing the framework for Treaty negotiations.

“We’ve created a real opportunity here to make history with the first Treaty in Australia,” he said.

“It’s very encouraging to see the Government is willing to step into this moment by acknowledging the truth about invasion and the racism our people still face.”

The Minister’s statement, made on Friday, came one day after the Victorian Opposition declared its support for a state-based Treaty, dropping its stance the process was matter for the Commonwealth.

After the hearing Ms Williams said appearing before the Commission was a significant step in the State Government’s participation in the Commission’s investigation.

The Commission has a broad mandate to investigate contemporary and historical injustices experienced by First Peoples in Victoria.