“20 Years on the Inside” is a rare and insightful glimpse into the imprisonment and experience of First Nations incarceration over the last twenty years.
First Nations people in Australia are the most incarcerated people on earth, and this podcast amplifies the voices of those who have spent time on the inside.
Our hosts Kutcha Edwards and Vickie Roach are survivors of the Stolen Generations and have both spent their fair share of time on the inside. Kutcha is a musician and a proud Mutti Mutti man whose heritage has shaped much of his music and career. Vickie is a proud Yuin woman currently living on Yuin Country, and a human rights activist whose work has changed laws in Australia.
This podcast honours the resilience and commitment of the prison radio show “Beyond the Bars”, first broadcast on 3CR Community Radio in 2002 and still going strong after 20 years. Throughout this podcast series, we’ll hear live broadcasts from prisons across Victoria, with the wonderful broadcasters that make “Beyond the Bars” such compelling listening. At the centre of these broadcasts are those subsisting on the inside - whose voices are so critical in building a future for Aboriginal people in so-called Australia.
Take a listen to the brothers, sisters, aunties, uncles and cousins, from around Victoria who unite in storytelling, song, poetry and politics.
Life beyond the bars
In this final episode, Vickie and Kutcha explore the ideas and dreams of those on the inside for their lives on the outside. Dreams of making a difference, and ideas of contributing to their community and building a better future for the generations of Aboriginal people to come. Visions of steering the younger generation in the right direction, and hopes of supporting the older generation through reconnection with culture. Living beyond the bars, and a life outside of the institution, can be daunting. What happens to people when they leave, and what dreams do they have for themselves beyond the gates of the prison? Without a home or sufficient housing, and without access to services, First Nations people are leaving prison with false promises and a complete lack of adequate support. The participants on this episode look to find peace on the outside, contribute to a system that's structured against them, and leave incarceration behind ... for good. In today’s episode, we hear from Josh, Bomber, Travis, Johnny, Harro, Eric, Lawrence, Jody, Angie and others in prisons across Victoria, we also want to say a huge thank you to all the incredible broadcasters that have made this project possible since 2002. Thanks for listening to 20 Years on the Inside. Today is our final episode, but, if you’d like to hear more stories from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people on the inside, please follow Beyond the Bars and 3CR Community radio. INSTAGRAM @3crmelbourne @3crbeyondthebarsTWITTER @3crFACEBOOK @3CRMelbournewww.3cr.org.au/beyondthebars
Listen to the lived experience of systemic institutionalisation
Aboriginal people are the most incarcerated people on Earth. In 1991 the Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody delivered its final findings. Back then, the Commission was reporting on nearly 100 deaths in custody but today we’re approaching 500 deaths, with no signs of change. Today’s episode is about listening to the depth of insight into the impacts of prisons on prisoners themselves. Who better to really listen to than those directly experiencing the failures of the system? Yet their voices seem to fall on deaf ears. Throughout this episode Kutcha and Vickie reflect on what - or if - anything has changed since the investigations back in 1991. They discuss the deep impacts of incarceration and listen to the thoughts, feelings and stories from people on the inside. It can be difficult to imagine a world without prisons, but if we really listen to the experiences of incarcerated First Nations people it has to follow that we demand an end to their unjust imprisonment. In today’s episode, we hear from Chanel, Fuddy Junior, Al Boy, Jody, Angie, Bomber, Lester, and others in prisons across Victoria and Beyond the Bars broadcasters Janina Harding, Gilla McGuinness, Shiralee Hood, and David Dryden.
The daily grind
The prison system can be harsh, monotonous and degrading. Work in prison can be tiresome, and close to slave labour. It’s a stark contrast to the interests or desires of the mob on the inside to the work they’d like to do, or even dreamt of doing one day. Unless you’ve experienced the isolation and loneliness behind bars it can be hard to imagine. On today’s show Kutcha and Vickie hear from the men and women on the “inside” about the daily grind. Life and work on the “inside”. We listen to the brothers and sisters who are living the grind day in, day out, and try to understand just what this system is doing to our people. In today’s episode we hear from Fuddy Senior, Fuddy Junior, Al Boy, Rocket, Travis, Jody, Mark, Eric and others in prisons across Victoria, as well as Beyond the Bars broadcasters Shiralee Hood, Johnny Mac, Ross Morgan, Kerri-Lee Harding and the late Lester Green.
The Aboriginal spirit is strong and ever-present
In an institution, freedom can be found only briefly - if at all. For Vickie brief moments of creativity and freedom were felt in the early hours, while the jail was still and quiet. But keeping culture and connecting with the Aboriginal spirit can feel impossible when you’re locked up. The Aboriginal culture is ancient, strong and ever-present in First Nations people; culture remains in the spirits of mob in prison, even when their physical presence to the land is cut off. In this episode, Kutcha and Vickie explore how inmates find creative expression, engage in the healing process and learn about culture while on the “inside”. Vickie shares how she found moments of peace during her time in prison through her creativity, daydreaming, writing and strengthening her spiritual connections.In today’s episode, we hear from Roy, Jody, James, Danielle, and others in prisons across Victoria and “Beyond the Bars” broadcasters Shiralee Hood, Kerri-Lee Harding, and Johnny Mac.
“There is no space to grieve in jail ...” When loved ones die on the “outside”, those left on the “inside” endure prison despite their grief. In this episode of “20 Years on the Inside”, Kutcha and Vickie speak about the pain of losing family and community members when imprisoned and the agony of being unable to fulfil cultural obligations. This episode not only looks at the pain associated with grief and mourning, but also with drug addiction, and how prisons only prolong the pain. We hear from mob on the inside about their stories of grief and addiction, and Vickie shares her own experiences with unfinished drug habits and the ongoing pain and injustice prisoners continue to face when they’re on the “outside”. In today’s episode, we hear from Clarky, Fuddy Junior, Al Boy, James, Kathleen and Poss in prisons across Victoria and “Beyond the Bars” broadcasters Gilla McGuinness, Ross Morgan and Shiralee Hood.
White man's world, black man's jail
In 2002, the Aboriginal broadcasters at 3CR Community Radio invited First Nations people on the “inside” to get behind the mic for the first NAIDOC live prison broadcast. Brothers, sisters, aunties and uncles gathered to tell their stories, sing their songs and build connections with each other. Messages to loved ones filled the airwaves, and people on the “outside” were finally listening to those “inside”.In this first episode, we remember the early days of “Beyond the Bars” and reflect on what, or if, anything has changed in the last twenty years. We listen to poets, storytellers, singers, and activists, and reflect on the “prison economy” in so-called Australia.In today’s episode, we hear from Paulie, Robbie, Bear, Angie, Erica, Rob, Guy and Kylie in prisons across Victoria, as well as “Beyond the Bars” broadcasters Freddy Norris, Gilla McGuinness, Viv Malo and Lisa Bellear.
Real justice is the truth
So profoundly moving, heartbreaking, and often hopeful, the insights shared in these podcasts marking 20 years of Beyond the Bars are a message board deserving of a national conversation around the meaning of justice. As Vicki Roach put it, justice means fairness in most languages, does it mean revenge in white Australia’s legal response to governing First Peoples?
Love the hosts and love the show!
It’s such an honest and poetic look into incarceration in Australia. I love the hosts together, they sound like old friends that are just having a yarn. A must listen!