The Human Rights Arts & Film Festival and Fed Square present Incarceration Nation – a story of strength and resistance in the face of racism and oppression. The film lays bare the story of the continued systemic injustice and oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on their own land, told by Indigenous Australians.
Australia was founded by the British with one clear purpose – to create a penal colony. We have continued to be one ever since. In the 230 years that have followed our incarceration rates are amongst the highest in the world and costing our nation billions of dollars. But the most devastating cost is the erosion of the culture and wellbeing of our First Nation Peoples leading to over-representation in our justice system.
Today, thousands of Indigenous people across Australia wake behind the bars of our prisons. Indigenous children are confined in juvenile detention centres away from their family; Indigenous women are locked in women’s prisons away from their children; and Indigenous men are incarcerated in high-security prisons, thousands of kilometres away from their communities and their lands.
Indigenous Australians comprise 29% of the prison population but only 3.3% of the population. The trauma for families and communities is unimaginable. Indigenous people are 16-18 times more likely to be imprisoned than the rest of the population. Two of the key drivers for incarceration are trauma and disadvantage.
Incarceration Nation connects the relentless legislation and government intervention since colonisation to the trauma and disadvantage experienced by Indigenous Australians. Exposing massacres, child removals, stolen wages, denial of education, over-policing, racism, and systemic bias. We are amidst an internationally recognised human rights catastrophe. It’s time for change.
The story is told through archive and expert interviews including Judge Matthew Myers, barrister Joshua Creamer, Associate Professor Chelsea Bond, Professor Don Weatherburn and lawyer Teela Reid. Incarceration Nation also gives voice to the victims of systemic injustice – Keenan Mundine, the Dungay, Fisher, Day and Hickey families.
This story needs to be told; it’s time to put our Nation’s justice system on trial.
Director: Dean Gibson
Country: Australia, USA
Duration: 90 minutes
Rating: M (Themes of racism, violence and course language)
Awards: Finalist Nominee – 66th Walkley Foundation Awards for Excellence in Journalism; Nominee for Sydney Film Festival Awards.
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Check out our podcast interview with Keenan Mundine (who is featured in the documentary):