Get news on reconciliation in Australia, ideas for driving reconciliation in schools and early learning services, and highlights of great things happening in schools and early learning services across the country. 

9 Aug 2016

Reconciliation Resource – Over-Represented: A Vice Special On Indigenous Incarceration


This short film, presented by hip-hop artist Adam Briggs (a.k.a. Briggs), is a confronting yet compassionate look at Indigenous youth currently serving time in Reiby Juvenile Justice Centre in the Sydney suburb of Airds. It is all the more relevant and insightful in light of recent revelations of mistreatment in the Northern Territory juvenile detention system, and the resulting Royal Commission. 

Through Briggs’ sharp commentary, the documentary provides insight into the realities of youth detention and paints a human picture of the boys in Reiby, all A-Class offenders under the age of 16. 

Many themes in the documentary link to the Australian Curriculum’s cross-curriculum priority of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander histories and cultures. For example, Briggs and several of the boys discuss Country and their understandings of belonging to place. This may prompt discussion around the removal of freedoms as a means of rehabilitation and exploration of impact data surrounding the dispossession of land on Aboriginal peoples. 

The documentary reintroduces a human element to daunting statistics that we so often hear, statistics that reveal vast over-representation of Indigenous youth in the juvenile justice system. The film also prompts critical thought about the state of reconciliation in our nation, especially given Australia’s dark history and track record of Indigenous deaths in custody. Briggs’ commitment to the rehabilitation of young offenders is clear. As a Yorta Yorta man, Briggs speaks about the incarceration of his own family members in the juvenile justice system and the profound effect this had on him as a young Aboriginal man and musician. The documentary also touches on the influence of hip-hop on these young men and the respect they have for Briggs as an artist. 

Interviews with the staff at Reiby demonstrate the boys’ general and universal love for their families. The fact that these young men do not speak of their parents’ failures, but of their own, shows some level of understanding that bucks the societal trend of blaming parents for the behaviours of their children. 

This resource could be used in the classroom to stimulate discussion around the realities of life for young Aboriginal men in institutions like Reiby, the high rates of recidivism in Aboriginal prison populations and the remand centre staff’s commitment to supporting the rehabilitation of the young men. 

Over-Represented: A Vice Special On Indigenous Incarceration can be found online

This film is most appropriate for secondary students, but could also be used with upper primary students. Please be aware that there is once instance of coarse language in the first 2:00 minutes.