Victorian Aboriginal Legal Service (VALS) Board of Directors have stood down their CEO, Wayne Muir, after shocking sexual assault, rape and sexual misconduct allegations emerged against him in the media overnight.
Airing on the ABC’s 7:30 last night, four women stood together to tell their stories about Wayne Muir, including his niece, who alleged that her uncle raped her when she was 14-years-old.
In a statement, VALS Board of Directors said the decision was made based on the seriousness of the allegations, however it is unclear who will be leading the organisation until a replacement is found.
"The community will be aware of the report aired on the ABC 7.30 program last night raising serious allegations against VALS CEO, Mr Wayne Muir. Given the seriousness of these allegations we advise that Mr Muir has been stood down from his position as CEO.
"VALS acknowledges the deep community concern about these matters and reiterates our ongoing commitment to working towards justice for all Aboriginal people," the statement read.
"As a community controlled organisation devoted to justice for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, we advocate for the right of every person to be treated with dignity and respect.
"The Board acknowledges the important work of VALS staff, volunteers and broader community and extends support to them at this difficult time. We understand the concern in the broader community around the impact of this story."
Djirra, a Victorian Aboriginal domestic violence organisation released a statement in response to the allegations stating that "Aboriginal women who make the very difficult decision to come forward must be supported and kept safe. Family violence and sexual assault must be condemned by all parts of the community. No matter where our women are – at home or at work – any sort of behaviour that threatens them is completely unacceptable."
Gunnai Kurnai Gunditjmara woman and ex-Greens Victoria MP, Lidia Thorpe, told NITV News that she knew of several men in positions of power in Victorian state government, as well as in Aboriginal organisations, who had similar claims made against them.
“We need to protect our women and children, we need to call out the perpetrators and we need to call it out for what it is,” Ms Thorpe said.
Ms Thorpe said it was because of such allegations in the community that she called for a Royal Commission into the power dynamic of several of the state's Aboriginal-controlled organisations three years ago.
“I think this is just scratching the surface. There needs to be a Royal Commission into Aboriginal Affairs in this state to actually have a look at how much funding and resources gets to grassroots communities, and look at who is advising government here,” Ms Thorpe said.
“Government needs to make sure that those advising them are not perpetrators themselves, because I can guarantee you, some of those people who have that position of advising government, are perpetrators.”
Gary Murray from the Victorian Traditional Owner Land Justice Group has reiterated Ms Thorpe's call for a Royal Commission.
“There’s lots of examples of [the alleged behaviour] around here. We’ve got to start calling them out. A Royal Commission would be the only solution," he said.