Incarceration Nation (Film) 2021

‘Incarceration Nation connects the relentless government intervention since colonisation to the trauma and disadvantage experienced by First Nations Australians – the two key drivers of incarceration.’

Incarceration Nation premiered on NITV on 29 August and SBS Australia on 31 October, 2021. The film is nominated as a finalist in both the 66th Walkley Foundation Awards for Excellence in Journalism and Sydney Film Festival Awards.

You can help us get as many Australians as possible to watch Incarceration Nation and see and hear the truth for themselves. 


You can stream the documentary via SBS On Demand at any time.

This groundbreaking new documentary calls attention to the reality faced by First Nations People in Australia. The film puts the justice system on trial, a  system that instead of being built on fairness and protection – in reality, subjects Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples to systematic racism and injustice.

“The great silence that accompanied the period of genocide in this country persists and infects us.” Tony McAvoy, Barrister

First Nations People are 13x more likely to be incarcerated than non-Indigenous Australians

Incarceration Nation exposes a justice system rooted in colonialism and a prison industry that profits from incarceration. The ongoing oppression of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples throughout these systems is evident in the disproportion of incarceration rates, the continued crisis of First Nations deaths in custody, and the lack of government accountability in addressing these issues or commitment to justice reinvestment.


As Incarceration Nation highlights – these aren’t just numbers and statistics with little meaning. They are people. They are someone’s mother, father, brother, sister, and child. For as long as there is no substantial change in the way First Nations People are policed and profiled in the eyes of the criminal justice system, the rate at which Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, young and old, lose their lives in custody will continue to rise.

2021 marks 30 years since the 1991 Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody (RCIADIC), where 339 recommendations on prison procedures and police engagement with First Nations People were made. Thirty years on and 474 First Nations deaths later, these recommendations to save lives are yet to be implemented in full.

How you can make an impact

There are a number of actions you can take to get active in the push for truth-telling and advocate for change.

Change the Record

Discriminatory policies and discriminatory policing are responsible for the disproportionate incarceration of First Nations People. Follow Change the Record to stay connected on current campaigns and justice issues

Raise the Age

In Australia, children as young as 10 can be arrested, charged and sentenced to time in detention. First Nations children are disproportionately impacted and are 9x more likely to be in custody than non-Indigenous kids. Sign the petition to Raise the Age.

Raise Your Voice

Join the impact campaign to help get the message out and share the film with your networks. Start conversations about the issues highlighted by Incarceration Nation using the guide provided. 

Campaign for Justice

Sign the pledge to Change the Record, write to your MP and ask them to Raise the Age and implement other RCIADIC recommendations, and learn more about solutions like Justice Reinvestment.


As Incarceration Nation reminds us of the everpresent systemic racism, we reflect on Stan Grant’s 2015 speech. A reminder that the dispossession of First Nations People was, and continues to be, a part of Australia’s fabric.

“By 1901 when we became a nation, when we federated the colonies, we were nowhere. We’re not in the Constitution, save for ‘race provisions’ which allowed for laws to be made that would take our children, that would invade our privacy, that would tell us who we could marry and tell us where we could live.” The Australian Dream

Personal accountability and action are at the heart of anti-racism. We all have the power to change the narratives and conversations around us when it comes to injustice. Start a conversation and let us know what you learnt from the film.


Stay up to date

Head over to our blog and check out our new write ups centred around Incarceration Nation and other prominent First Nations issues.