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2023 Reconciliation Week film screening – Conversation guide.

30 May 2023 Read time: 5 min

A simple conversation guide to talk about the hard truths of prison, policing and how ‘tough on crime’ policies are letting our communities down.

Post-screening conversation guide: Incarceration Nation.



Thank you for joining us for our 2023 Reconciliation Week Film Screening of Incarceration Nation. This Post-Screening Conversation Guide will help you sensitively discuss, process and share your feelings on the film.

For many of us, watching Incarceration Nation is the first deeply personal look at the harms prisons and over-policing inflicts on individuals, families and the whole community. It can be challenging to talk about such highly charged topics like racism, crime and policing.

However, Incarceration Nation is not just a documentary about the harms of policing and prisons – it’s also an invitation for us all to do things differently… and that might be just the kind of meaningful hope you, your friends and family are looking for at a time when (understandably) many of us feel quite powerless.


Facilitating healthy conversations.


People are likely to have big questions, big feelings and big reactions to Incarceration Nation – particularly if some of the ideas and stories in it are new to them. It is
important to give people space to share these reactions without judgment.

A big part of facilitating difficult conversations is about asking questions and creating the space for people to share how they’re feeling and what they are thinking.

Reflecting on your own feelings and reactions, and then inviting others to share, is an important part of creating an environment where people feel comfortable to speak honestly and openly about their reactions.


Conversation starters.


Start with something simple and open-ended to open up a discussion.

Some questions you might use to kick off:

I was really shocked by a lot of what I saw in Incarceration Nation. I knew that the justice system didn’t always work for everyone but I wasn’t aware of how bad things really were. Which parts really stuck out for you?

There were a lot of things about our history I learnt from watching Incarceration Nation. It made me think a lot about what was left out of what we learnt in school. Did you learn anything new when you watched the film?


Get specific.


Don’t be afraid to drill down into specifics – that’s where you can really help people to think about what they have seen.

Some questions you could ask are:

Young people – that is, children – are being locked away after experiencing some really traumatic stuff. That was a common theme in Incarceration Nation. It upset me because I think about all the ways adults could have intervened to help them. What did you think?

I was shocked to see how violently young people in detention are treated. Seeing Dylan Voller being treated so roughly when he was young and then being restrained when he was older was really confronting. It left me very confused. How are young people meant to come out of those situations and change their behaviour? How did you feel when you saw that?

Incarceration Nation made it really clear that First Nations People are treated drastically differently by the justice system and are often targeted by police. it really shocked me to hear Tanya Day’s story and then hear that a white women who was in the same situation that night was driven home by the police. What did you think when you saw that? What other stories struck you?

Keenan Mundine walking us through the process of what happens when you get to prison made me realise how little I know about the reality for people who are incarcerated. What did you think about that section?


Discuss alternatives to inaction.


It’s easy to feel helpless when learning about the systemic barriers faced by Australia’s First Peoples. It can be very empowering to imagine other possibilities and consider how you might be able make change, affect government policy and help improve the lives of others.

Here are some questions to help fend off helplessness and inaction:

Trauma and disadvantage were a common threads through so many of the stories we heard. In prison, people often experience more of the same – and with very little support when they get out. I’m not sure how people are supposed to get back on their feet. What do you think we could do differently?

Seeing how much your race and socioeconomic status impacts how you are treated by the justice system really made me think about how lucky I am. I can see now that I benefit from that privilege everyday. I’m going to think about what I could do differently each day to transfer my privilege to those who lack it. Maybe I can [donate to Indigenous led organisations/share and amplify the voices of First Nations people on social media/educate myself about structural racism in Australia/use my voice to advocate for policy change]. Have you got any good ideas for what you might do?

Has the film changed the way you think about our justice system?

Do you think you’ll make any changes after seeing the film?


Some answers for tricky questions.


When people are faced with confronting material, they will often reach for things to justify the status quo:

“Well, they must have done something really bad”
“What about the murderers?”
“That’s all really sad but people deserve to be safe.”

These are understandably reactions. It is confronting and challenging to watch a film like Incarceration Nation that questions things many of us believed to be necessary and true.


If you remember nothing else from this 2023 Reconciliation Week film screening conversation guide, remember this: It’s okay – you do not need to have all the answers.

It is enough to say you don’t know, but what you do know is that the status quo is hurting a lot of people and you believe we can do things better.

Here are some suggestions for articulating this:

I am not going to pretend I have all the answers, but I feel strongly that there must be a better way to respond to trauma, homelessness and poverty than locking all those people away behind bars instead of providing basic support and alternatives.

I don’t know what should happen with murders and serial killers. But none of those people in Incarceration Nation were murderers or serial killers. They were kids and young people who were really struggling and were let down. I really believe we can do better by young people who need our help.

Don’t you think our communities would be safer if we invested money in building more safe, affordable housing and gave families and young people the supports they needed when they are struggling? It’s clear we have the money – it’s just how we choose to spend it (on prevention or incarceration).

Take action.


Incarceration Nation is an invitation for us to all to take action to create a better future. It’s a film and campaign for change, which reveals the racist systems that continue to impact Indigenous people today.

But systems are built by people. And we have the power to change them. Together, let’s change these systems for a better future.

Here’s how:

  1. Share the documentary with your friends, family and workplace. Make sure you pass on our 2023 Reconciliation Week film screening conversation guide.
  2. Write to your MP and ask them to watch Incarceration Nation, and make changes that will keep kids out of jail and end blak deaths in custody.
  3. Sign the petition to #RaiseTheAge.
  4. First Nations Peoples have solutions. Support Indigenous voices and organisations by researching, following, sharing and donating to First Nations organisations like our friends at the Indigenous Knowledge Systems Lab.
  5. Take the Incarceration Nation Audience Survey or sign up for their Impact Campaign.


Additional support.


If you need help unpacking feelings after this film, reach out to:


Brother to Brother (Men Only)

Brother to Brother is a 24-hour hotline assisting Aboriginal men. The line is staffed by Aboriginal men, including elders, to promote a culturally safe service.

  • The crisis number is 1800 435 799



Lifeline is a non-profit organisation that provides free, 24-hour telephone crisis support service in Australia.

  • Phone Lifeline on 13 11 14


Headspace Yarn Safe

Got a lot going on? When we’ve got a lot going on we can feel sad, tired, stressed and angry. Everybody has these feelings when life is tough, but when these feelings go on for a long time it can weaken our body, mind and spirit.



About the 2023 Reconciliation Week film screening conversation guide.


This 2023 Reconciliation Week film screening conversation guide is based on the guide supplied by the Incarceration Nation team.

If you have any questions or concerns, please reach out.

Speak to the team.