This text comprises data on deaths in custody and the violence skilled by First Nations individuals in our encounters with the Australian carceral system. It additionally comprises references to and the names of people who find themselves now deceased.
“They killed him.”
David Dungay Jr died in Sydney’s Lengthy Bay jail in 2015. Within the opening scene of the documentary Incarceration Nation, Dunghutti girl Aunty Leetona Dungay, David’s mom, units the scene for what viewers are about to witness.
Whereas David Dungay’s household’s marketing campaign was not mentioned in depth within the documentary, there’s no query why they’ve lodged a grievance with the United Nations Human Rights Committee to hunt accountability for the guards concerned in his demise.
David Dungay’s demise is certainly one of about 500 Aboriginal deaths in custody because the Royal Fee report was launched in 1991. Nobody has ever been held accountable for these deaths.
Directed by Guugu Yimithirr man Dean Gibson, Incarceration Nation is relentless and emotionally demanding of its viewers. This is because of scenes of express violence perpetrated towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals – particularly kids – by these in authority. It is perhaps probably the most disturbing belongings you ever watch.
For non-First Nations individuals, Incarceration Nation has the potential to shake the very core of your understanding of what it means to be Blak on this continent.
Colonial carceral system
First Nations individuals make up 3.3% of Australia’s inhabitants. But 65% of kids incarcerated on this nation between the ages of 10 and 13 are Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander. First Nations kids make up 55% of the kid jail inhabitants total.
Aboriginal girls, the quickest rising jail inhabitants, make up 34% of these incarcerated in girls’s prisons.
Whereas these statistics are sometimes utilized by criminologists and the state to symbolize the issue as certainly one of “over-representation”, in actuality they mirror the colonial operate of incarceration within the Australian settler colony — to additional the erasure of First Nations individuals.
These statistics are more and more recognised as a critical breach of human rights internationally.
But in Australia, regardless of calls for from First Nations communities to prioritise decarceration and community-based responses to make sure our security, state and territory governments proceed to prioritise carceral enlargement. There are even plans to construct extra prisons and improve policing assets.
Keenan Mundine, co-founder of Lethal Connections, an Aboriginal community-led organisation that gives companies to First Nations individuals impacted by little one removing and carceral techniques, responds to the difficulty of underfunded Aboriginal group organisations and growing police budgets within the documentary:
[police have] been given extra assets and extra funding, to do what they do finest, which is terrorising Aboriginal communities.
Fund group options not police budgets
Incarceration Nation weaves collectively historic data, archival footage, statistics, skilled recommendation, and the testimonies of people with lived expertise and households who’ve misplaced family members in custody.
For First Nations viewers and our advocates, points of this documentary stand inside a robust equipment to show the systemic, colonial underpinnings of Australia’s “justice” system.
This movie has the potential to be a beneficial useful resource testifying to an indeniable actuality that First Nations individuals have all the time been aware of: that Australia’s carceral system is based on a genocidal and colonial intent towards Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander individuals. An intent pushed by a want for land.
For this documentary to maneuver past figuring out this drawback – one persistently highlighted by First Nations individuals and communities – it requires non-First Nations individuals, significantly white individuals, to vary.
Charendev Singh/Writer offered
Change won’t be achieved by means of reform, however by means of the abolition of the colonial system, and the strategic governance and nation-building efforts of First Nations individuals.
From the views expressed by many First Nations individuals in Incarceration Nation, together with public servants, it’s clear that expectations of insurance policies and packages to make sure “stronger” relationships between Aboriginal individuals and police have lapsed. What’s being requested now’s that policing and imprisonment be overhauled and dismantled.
Trusting in carceral reforms alone is, in actual fact, a harmful answer. As Yuin Aunty Vickie Roach, an advocate for jail abolition, highlights within the documentary, it’s not potential to repair a system that isn’t damaged, however slightly working precisely because it was designed to do.
The bounds of police reform are additionally highlighted within the documentary by Yorta Yorta, Wemba Wemba and Barapa Barapa girl Apryl Watson, whose mum Aunty Tanya Day died in police custody in 2017. Chatting with the failure of police to comply with their very own pointers, Apryl Watson explains:
They failed their obligation of care, they didn’t even comply with their very own police guide to examine her successfully.
Incarceration Nation brings to the forefront the intimate relationship between the incarceration and policing of First Nations individuals and ongoing colonisation.
Nevertheless, for First Nations audiences, we conclude that your discretion is suggested. We don’t imagine this movie was made for a Blak viewers.
As First Nations individuals researching, educating and campaigning on this house, watching Incarceration Nation raised plenty of moral questions that we really feel are crucial to ask:
how can we talk about violence with out reproducing it?
how can we talk about violence whereas making certain the security of our personal individuals?
how can we honour the tales and lived experiences of these surviving state-sanctioned brutality, with out producing consumable tales of harm which, in line with Unangax̂ scholar Eve Tuck, settlers starvation so ravenously for?
We imagine these crucial questions required additional consideration from the creators of this movie, particularly in relation to the influence on First Nations audiences.
Not criminals or passive victims: media have to reframe their illustration of Aboriginal deaths in custody
How one can take motion
Whereas this documentary included the testimonies of these with lived expertise, much less current was how these people and households are main the resistance towards continued state-sanctioned brutality. Given the premise of this movie, this was a missed alternative.
Right here is how one can assist this crucial work:
assist community-based responses, which assist First Nations individuals by means of their encounters with this violent system
demand that taxpayers’ cash is used to construct houses not prisons and funding is redirected away from the carceral system and into transformative justice and prevention, corresponding to safe housing and well being and well-being companies
donate to organisations, campaigns and mutual assist teams working to assist First Nations individuals and different teams who’re criminalised by the state.
If Blak lives actually matter to you, after watching this movie we ask you to carry elected representatives, police and jail officers, coroners, judges and the courts accountable. We implore you to determine how you could be implicated, significantly in your silence, and to behave.
As Wiradjuri and Wailwan lawyer Teela Reid relays in Incarceration Nation:
We’d like individuals to point out up. Not simply on the entrance line, however day-after-day of their private life and of their skilled lives to dismantle these legacies of oppression.
When you’ve watched this documentary you can not say you didn’t know. When you watch this movie, hear these tales, and don’t do one thing about it, your lack of motion is complicity.
The authors don’t work for, seek the advice of, personal shares in or obtain funding from any firm or organisation that may profit from this text, and have disclosed no related affiliations past their educational appointment.