Prison Songs is a groundbreaking documentary that gives voice to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. Shot entirely behind bars, this funny yet achingly sad account of eventful lives is delivered via the musical performances of real inmates.

The film features a number of male and female prisoners, each with their own past. Common themes emerge linking the tales – family violence, drugs and alcohol. While the songs were written by Shellie Morris and Casey Bennetto – the award-winning composer of Keating: The Musical – the lyrics came from participants’ own words and they had final approval.

The stories portrayed in the film expose the real tragedy behind the shockingly high prison rates of Aboriginal people – the underlying poverty, disadvantage and discrimination faced by many Aboriginal communities and the lack of basic services and support systems available to them.

Prison Songs presents a unique opportunity to shift the conversation about reducing over-imprisonment of Aboriginal people, through focusing on providing better supports and services that address the underlying reasons why people come into contact with the criminal justice system in the first place.

Prison Songs takes the audience on a journey where the real lives of strangers unfold. This close connection with inmates at Berrimah awakens a real empathy with audiences’ hearts. The empathy created by the great storytelling in Prison Songs becomes the vital fuel needed to spark positive action.

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