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Outreach   /  Helen Morrison

Incarceration Nation

We are in the midst of a new convict era, Incarceration Nation will put the justice system on trial.


Impact areas




  • DIRECTOR Dean Gibson

  • PRODUCER Helen Morrison



Australia was founded with a clear purpose, to create a prison island. 230 years later, our incarceration rates are amongst the highest in the world, costing our nation billions of dollars. But the most devastating cost is the erosion of the culture, values and wellbeing of our First Nations Peoples.

Incarceration Nation reveals the systemic injustice and oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people that has created an Internationally recognized human rights catastrophe. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are amongst the most incarcerated people in the world - 3% of the population and 27% of prisoners.

We are in the midst of a new convict era. Incarceration Nation will put the justice system on trial. The film will ask why petty crimes like unpaid parking fines, can lead to imprisonment. We’ll highlight the costs of our current system – both economically and socially, by forensically examining our Nation’s law enforcement, judicial and prison systems.

Support this project

82.79% funded
  • $451,921.00

  • $374,126.00

  • December 2023

  • 42

Minimum amount is $ Maximum amount is $





Anonymous $100.00
Marnath Pel-Kun $30.00
Sydney Myer Foundation $100,000.00
Pippa Newman $50.00
Delphine Domine $5.00
Kate Agnew $200.00
Kate Agnew $150.00
Anonymous $100.00
Charlotte Brennan $50.00
Anonymous $200.00
Lydia Matthews $10.00
Michelle Holmes $5.00
Anonymous $500.00
Renee Engl $100.00
Deni McKenzie $20.00
Joel Malbon $10.00
Anonymous $500.00
Megan Williams $100.00
Jessica Lawrie $50.00
Jaqui Lobb $25.00
Nelson Meers Foundation $20,000.00
Anonymous $10,000.00
Oranges & Sardines Foundation $10,000.00
Anonymous $130,000.00
Anonymous $30,000.00
Julie Kantor $10,000.00
mark neal $100.00
Edward Stubbings $5.00
Anonymous $10,000.00
David Nunn $100.00
Peter Donaldson $20.00
Troy Byrnes $10.00
The Snow Foundation $50,000.00
Whitetower Digital Wilson $1.00
Whitetower Digital Wilson $5.00
Anonymous $5.00
Sue Jacobs $500.00
Emma Dow $20.00
Sonny Van Issum $50.00
Robin Freedman $1,000.00
Kevin Farmer $100.00
Emma Simms $5.00

Issue Summary

A short summary of the issue the documentary is addressing

Today, thousands of Aboriginal people across Australia wake behind the bars of our prisons: Aboriginal children waking in juvenile detention centres away from their family; Aboriginal women waking in women’s prisons away from their children; and Aboriginal men waking in high security prisons, thousands of kilometres away from their communities and their lands.

The reasons why are varied and can start with something as minor as an unpaid parking ticket, but the cost to our country is tremendous - economically, socially and culturally.

The reality behind Aboriginal incarceration is a story that dates back well before the advent of modern prisons, government programs and support services. Incarceration Nation will tell the tragic account of the systemic injustice and oppression of Aboriginal people since European settlement and put the justice system on trial.


What is the impact vision statement of the documentary?

With the film as a core tool, we will convene a coalition of impact partners, advocates and champions to develop a framework for change, based on the following key activities:
1. Demand accountability for law enforcement and prison staff to maintain dignity for detainees and prisoners;
2. Work with State Governments to commit 3% to diversionary and rehabilitation programs; and
3. Drive National Policy change to increase criminal responsibility age from 10 years.


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

SHORT TERM -To bring together our impact partners and devise a strategy how the film can be used independently to achieve a common goal.
MID TERM -To implement this strategy and shine a renewed light on the issue of Indigenous incarceration. With a unified (and growing) voice through NGO and legal organisations, education and the media, we can highlight solutions and drive action.
LONG TERM -That enough pressure is applied and/or supported by the Australian people that policy makers are forced to review laws such as raising the age of criminal responsibility, and to create new laws to demand accountability of law enforcement and prison staff to maintain dignity of detainees and prisoners.

Pressure State Governments to have a plan to commit investment into alternatives to incarceration such as diversionary programs and rehabilitative programs. Alternatives that result in both the reduction of Incarceration rates, and the reduction of crime itself.


How will this documentary achieve its outcomes?

Through progressive politicians screening the film to bring the issue to the forefront of our major political parties agendas in both state and federal governments.

Through a general public voice of support for diversionary and rehabilitation programs commencing with an online petition that generates a social media groundswell.

Through a dedicated website that provides facts, lived experience stories, resources and pathways for people to add their voice to this issue. Links to SBS Learn and similar services will enable corporate, NGO’s and schools to host screenings, while links to activities such as volunteering, philanthropy and political letter writing will provide the general public with a means to add their voice.

By bringing together diverse voices from all over Australia, Incarceration Nation can drive real change on this issue.


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

At this early stage we are developing relationships with organisations that are currently working on the issue. Partnerships with organisations that are advocates or are delivering diversionary and rehabilitation programs.
The pre-liminary list below are organisations we have identified -
Change the Record
Just Reinvest
Inside Out Aborginal Justice Consultancy
Custody Notification Service
Aboriginal Legal Aid Services
Australians for Native Title and Reconciliation
Amnesty International
Australian Council of Social Service
Human Rights Law Centre
Sisters Inside
National Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Legal Services
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner, Australian Human Rights Commission
Public Interest Advocacy Centre
Making Justice Work
South Australian Council of Social Services

Audience Engagement and Social Impact

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

Write to political parties demanding policy change (dignity, raising the age and commitment to diversionary and rehabilitation programs);

Host a screening (school, NGO’s, private organisations, parliamentary screenings); and/or

Show support through social media, building a grassroots swell around the issue.

Measurement and Evaluation

What is the projects indicators for success?

The indicators of success after the impact campaign will be the reduction in Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander incarceration rates by way of policy change, including:

- Criminal Responsibility age raised
- State Governments diverting funds to diversionary and rehabilitation programs
- Accountability system of law enforcement and prison staff that results in dignified treatment of detainees and prisoners

It is important to note that while our target is to reduce incarceration of our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders, the effects of the campaign when implemented will benefit all detainees and prisoners.