close icon

Post-production   /  Grant Saunders

Break it Down Under – The Revolutionary Voices in Australian Hip-hop

Hip-hop is a form of street journalism and this film discusses what our Hip-hop journos are saying about Australia.


Impact areas






  • DIRECTOR Grant Leigh Saunders

  • PRODUCER Grant Leigh Saunders



Australian hip hop has developed a distinct cultural personality that reflects its Indigenous and multicultural base. The unifying issue that connects these artists is their experience of Australian racism and their determination to overcome it, empowered through Hip-hop. Finally after 10 years of white Aussie Hip-hop dominance, another sound that is black and brown is coming up from the underground. This film visually explores some of the lyrical content of Aussie Hip-hop, focusing in on Sonboy. Having lived and seen it all, Sonboy’s story provides the audience with a real example of the relationship between Hip-hop and social justice activism.

Support this project

0.05% funded
  • $100,000.00

  • $50.00

  • 1

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





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