When it comes to great story telling everyone probably has a different opinion of what they consider a great story. I think we can all agree though that great story telling goes for the heart, gut and mind. Whether is brings you joy or makes you weep it should hit you in a way that makes you think.
I have this vague memory of when I was 10 hearing about the Central Pak Five on TV; the news was always on in our house at 6pm. The story that seemed so far away to a ten year old but it was discussed across many dinner tables in suburban Australia and usually not in a way that highlighted any injustice that may be perceived. More in a thankful way that it didn’t happen here. As I got older and began to understand social and economic politics more I heard that the conviction of these boys (because they were children aged between 14 and 16 when they were arrested) had been over turned, I was 22 and these now young men had spent their formative years in detention and in the 16 year olds case adult maximum security prison.
Why am I talking about this? A day normally reserved for industry talk? Because I have been watching the Netflix series “When They See Us" written and directed by Ava DuVernay. It is great story telling. Just because it is a true story and on screen doesn’t change that fact. It will hit you in the gut, break your heart and make you think. It is some of the best story telling I have seen (or read) ever. Big call, I know. What has struck me the most of all is the parallels of discrimination that run through justice systems in America and here. The part that has made me think.
Australia has the sixth highest incarceration rate per 100,000 people in the world (higher than many developed western cultures). Our indigenous peoples make up only 2% of our Nation's population but 23% of our incarcerated population. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men are 15 times more likely to be in custody than non-Indigenous men. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women are 21 times more likely to be in custody than non-Indigenous women.The picture is particularly stark for Indigenous children. They make up 7% of the general youth population but 54% of those in youth detention across Australia. This ranges, on average, from 15% in Victoria to 97% in the Northern Territory
I was lucky enough to spend some time working in Darwin a couple of years ago and there was an indigenous man who slept rough in front of our building during the wet season. I often wonder if his story is part of the great and terrible story that affects all our Indigenous people in some way.
Great story telling fiction or non fiction no matter the media in which it is presented is essential to our development as individuals and communities. I think the great stories give us truth. Truth about the world we live in and truth about ourselves. We all know a great story. A story that has hit you in the gut, heart and mind. Share it. Read it to or watch it with your friends, your children or grandchildren. Tell your own story and maybe, you can change the world.
Image Credit: http://presentwithintent.com.au