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SPECIAL TREATMENT- Locking Up Aboriginal Children

Year: 1991

Classification: Exempt - Ronin Recommends: G

Runtime: 55 min

Produced In: Australia

Directed By: Margaret Anne Smith

Produced By: Margaret Anne Smith

Language: English

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Australians have an historic hatred of police and of authority - but for black Australians it is a brutal reality. Some Australians call it a ‘secret war’. Others see it as evidence of an on-going penal mentality.

But despite the attempt at cultural genocide, Aboriginal juveniles remain defiant and resilient, with a clever humour that gets them into even more trouble with police. They have to contend with over-policing and police harassment, and a criminal justice system which is more likely to sentence them for petty crimes than their white counterparts.

The documentary, made by a crew of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians, features prominent Aborigines such as Lyall Munro Jnr., Evelyn Crawford and Shane Phillips, as well as criminologist Chris Cunneen, who tell of the history of taking Aboriginal children away from their families.

The overwhelming fear of some Aborigines is that repeated incarceration can lead to institutionalisation, deaths in custody, or a pattern of life which can psychologically cripple them in adulthood.

The film visits outback towns including Bourke, Brewarrina and Walgett, as well as Moree and Sydney’s Redfern, and goes inside Reiby, Minda and Mt Penang juvenile detention centres.

The teenagers make provocative viewing as SPECIAL TREATMENT finds out what Aboriginal juveniles think about how they are treated. It also attempts to explore past, present and future solutions as Koori kids tell their own stories and comment on the initiatives now being taken.

The soundtrack features some of the exciting bands of contemporary Australian rock music such as Paul Kelly, Archie Roach and Mixed Relations.

SPECIAL TREATMENT received a special commendation from the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

Shane Phillips, who appears in SPECIAL TREATMENT, has been named Australia's Local Hero for 2013.

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