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Post-production   /  Grant Saunders

JustUS: What Hip-hop wants you to know

Hip-hop gives voice to the voiceless. This film is about what those voices have to say about living black in Australia.


Impact areas






  • DIRECTOR Grant Leigh Saunders

  • PRODUCER Grant Leigh Saunders



Through the lens of Hip-hop this essay/ observational hybrid film explains the deep social, political and cultural parallels shared between Black America and Black Australia, why we have adopted Hip-hop and more recently the Black Lives Matter movement to tell our own stories of injustice. This film explores the lyrical content of a young Indigenous rapper Sonboy from Redfern, Sydney, who has seen it all. Indigenous filmmaker Grant Leigh Saunders takes a tour with Sonboy of his old stomping ground, inviting outsiders into a world of police brutality, crime, gentrification and a rich history of Indigenous political activism that birthed 'The Block'. This film provides a fresh inside look at systemic racism here in Australia seen through the eyes of some of Australia's most potent Hip-hop wordsmiths and their equally powerful music provides the soundtrack.

Support this project

5.40% funded
  • $30,000.00

  • $1,620.00

  • 18

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Meegan Williams $50.00
Belinda Christensen $50.00
Molly Maggs $30.00
Anne-Marie Powell $20.00
Toni Bishop $100.00
Ulrika Sandberg $50.00
Craig Kocinski $100.00
Carol Brown $100.00
Liz Skelton $100.00
Jaime Kachel $20.00
Jennifer Newman $100.00
james marshall $100.00
Jenni Saunders $500.00
Cara Cross $50.00
Nathan Codner $50.00
Jeff and Nettie Miller $100.00
Monica Muxlow $50.00
Shelley McClure $50.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

Rates of policing and over-incarceration of Indigenous people is at an unacceptable, all-time high, in direct contravention to the recommendations born out of the original Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody in 1991. There is a desperate need to change current criminal justice laws that allow police and corrective services to act in their roles with impunity, even when that sometimes involves a suspicious death in custody. We also do not have a professional, academically trained police or correctional force, allowing a culture of misconduct, abuse and corruption to prevail. Additionally, it is understood that teachers are under-resourced to teach Aboriginal studies and current teaching focuses on the “soft stuff” eg. dream-time stories and traditional culture. Students have no interest or not encouraged to undertake Indigenous studies, nor are teachers receiving pre-service and in-service training to teach it, which helps to perpetuate ignorance and xenophobic racism.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

This film's purpose is to engender empathy for Indigenous Australians, advocating for their human rights protection. Through the ubiquitous culture of Hip-hop and its mass appeal to young people globally, this film has a real opportunity to reach a large audience, using the lens of Hip-hop to engage them in discussions around social justice. This film promotes the positive impact that Hip-hop education has on young people, calling for Hip-hop to be embedded into the education system permanently.


What outcomes does the project hope to achieve from making this documentary?

- We want audiences who are influencers working in the education and criminal justice space to join, give voice to Indigenous communities, and use our film and resources to start a national conversation around Indigenous education and social justice.

- We want to contemporise our educational resources, providing a medium that speaks to and empowers Indigenous young people, honouring their cultural capital and retaining them to year 12 and beyond.

- We wish all students to be more engaged in matters of social justice, Aboriginal politics, society and history.

- We also wish to advocate for the Australian education system to seriously look at the positive impacts of Hip-hop Based Education (HHBE) and employing it on a full-time basis within its curriculums.

- Another important outcome for the participants, is that the market for these artists expands, making Indigenous Hip-hop a viable commercial product, allowing them and other aspiring artists to make a living from their art.


How will partnerships with this project help inform the project development?

I have connections to Indigenous Social Justice advocacy groups, whose activism continues to inform and inspire my own activism, writing and filmmaking. For this project these partnerships will help to keep my film contemporary and relevant, ensuring the most pertinent and authorised information is relayed in the film's final cut. I also have connections with legal academics and through their connections hope to establish further partnerships with criminal justice advocacy groups like ANTaR and In the education space, I have been involved in Indigenous education directly and indirectly since the early 1990's and over that time I have developed strong and lasting relationships with those operating at the coal face and those helping to shape policy. I hope to strengthen these relationships and bring key stakeholders together to test the benefits of Hip-hop based education (HHBE) in primary, secondary and tertiary education spaces through a pilot HHBE program.

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

What actions does this project hope for its viewers after seeing this film?

We want audiences to identify the problems with our justice system, how it treats Indigenous people and do whatever they can to hold goverenments to account. An online as well as physical petition to the federal and state Ministers for education and policing will be promoted through the event based screenings, as well as through the podcasts and other online platforms. It is hoped therefore that viewers sign and share the petition, point people to the film and have important conversations about the themes raised in the film. The film aims also to promote social justice activism and so we wish for audiences to turn out and add to the numbers of street protests, sit ins, strikes and other forms of raising awareness around the matters of social justice preseted in the film.

Additionally, it is hoped that teachers will utilize the film as a teaching resource within history, social studies, English and Aboriginal studies classes to engage students in social justice issues in Australia.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

Some indicators of success may include but not be limited to the following:
- the petition gaining enough signatures for compulsory debate to be engaged with in state and federal parliaments around criminal justice issues and hip-hop based education in Australia
- the film comprehensively reaches the education market in Australia.
- the film reaches a large audience through film festivals, nationally and internationally, through event based screenings, Cinema on Demand, broadcast and online
- the film encourages a national debate via programs like ABC's Q&A
- the online forums continue to attract subscribers, likes, shares, views and podcast downloads