Tony Armstrong Says Australia Can’t Accept It’s Racist, Following Shocking Prison Footage

Australia's shocking treatment of Indigenous inmates is under question as incarceration rates continue to rise.

Tony Armstrong The Project

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Journalist Tony Armstrong has launched into Australia’s appalling Indigenous incarceration rates on The Project, ahead of a new NITV documentary examining why Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders are among the most imprisoned populations in the world.

“We talk about a sense of truth-telling, we talk about needing to accept where we’ve come from in order to move forward,” he said on the show’s panel on Thursday.

“This country can’t accept that it’s a racist country. This country still can’t accept that it’s built off the back of slavery, it’s built off the back of dispossession, it’s built off the back of rape and pillage of Indigenous people”.

The Project showed unsettling footage of officers screaming at mothers, throwing inmates around, and tasering children. Australia’s Indigenous population is 3.3 percent, but Indigenous men form nearly 29 percent, and women 34 percent, of respective prison populations.

Over half of youth custody cases are First Nations, and in examples shown from the Northern Territory, kids had been locked up for instances as small as stealing a water bottle. First Nations legal experts have continually said how child imprisonment can cause lifelong mental health and development issues, and heighten recidivism.

The issue lies on both sides of criminal enforcement. In one damning clip aired, an Indigenous police inspector from WA recounted his co-workers alienating him because of his race, even going so far as to banning him from putting his lunch out of the communal fridge.

A recent report by the Federal Productivity Commission found that Indigenous incarceration is sadly on the rise, with a 0.17 percent increase of inmates between 2019 and last year.

“It’s really hard to watch, and it’s really hard to reconcile with, but we’ve just got to be better,” said Armstrong.

Incarceration Nation premieres on NITV on Sunday, 29 August, and unpacks life behind bars for Indigenous people on their own land.