Modern education the pathway to incarceration, ‘In My Blood It Runs’ discussed.

Modern education the pathway to incarceration, ‘In My Blood It Runs’ discussed.

Modern education the pathway to incarceration, ‘In My Blood It Runs’ discussed.

It’s easy to see the vibrant liveliness of 10-year-old Dujuan Hoosan, the main subject of Maya Newell’s latest documentary, In My Blood It Runs.

The story, which follows a young Aboriginal boy of the Arrernte people, is a complex, collaborative piece between a levy of Australian indie film heavyweights and First Nations creators, creatives and Elders, across Alice Springs and the Northern Territory.

It’s even easier to see the trajectory by which the main thread of the documentary, state education, will fail Dujuan.

Almost instantly, it is conveyed that the deeply insightful boy will likely be a casualty of the systemic indigenous prejudice that sees hordes like him dragged to juvenile detention centres.

So how does a documentary, over the space of one hour and 30 minutes, tell this important story?

Newell’s biggest success throughout In My Blood It Runs is showcasing standardised prejudice in educational bodies.

Throughout the documentary, the precocious Arrernte boy plays, jokes with his friends, and tries at school, then disregards the institution, protects his family, and asks the sort of honest and critical questions that only a child could, primarily around why his future is one laced with such difficulty.

The core of his questions, which may seem plaintive at first, lead to topics surrounding why state schools place no importance, except in a superficial manner, of teaching Aboriginal history, not through the lens of white colonists, but through experiences by the Aboriginal population.

Dujuan, who at the tender age of ten can speak three languages and source native healing ingredients, all the while displaying extreme self-sufficiency, is seen as a failure by state education.

More importantly, there is an acceptance evident in Dujuan that he will, like many others before him and likely many others likely to come after, will disappoint the system enough to be incarcerated in juvenile detention.

The potential of ‘juvie’ is so commonly spoken about by Dujuan, his worried mother Megan Hoosan, and his fiercely protective grandmother, Carol Turner, that it almost reaches desensitisation by the close of the documentary.

The hard numbers simply back this notion.

In the 2019 December quarter, Australian Bureau of Statistics recorded the incarcerated in Northern Territory as the highest imprisonment rate at 952 persons per 100,000 adult population, and it is no coincidence that the Northern Territory has the largest Indigenous population compared to other Australian states and territories at 32%.

Across the country, Indigenous and Torres Strait Island prisoners represent 29% of the total adult imprisoned population, despite comprising only 3.3% of Australia’s population.

We are often urged to see people not as numbers but as individuals, to ensure that the very same desensitisation doesn’t occur. In keeping with this idea, perhaps the disproportionate ratios need to be placed against real human stories like Dujuan’s, to better understand the pathways seemingly set for Aboriginal youth to become incarcerated youths.

It could be suggested this pathway is paved through the governing systems that intrinsically fail these young people.

The first experience that most youth have with a body affiliated with the government takes place at school. Furthermore, for Aboriginal youth raised within their tribes, it is also their first experience facing western dogmatic education surrounding Australian history.

Throughout In My Blood It Runs, Dujuan displays intelligence and maturity far above his age group, which develops in his care for his culture and community, and his flouting of the rules set by the white-centric educational authorities.

Anger is a heavily discussed theme throughout In My Blood It Runs and surfaces as an uncomfortable shadow that follows Dujuan.

When Dujuan is amongst his family and when he has the opportunity to reconnect to his homeland at Sandy Bore out in the Bush, he claims he can control his anger, and by proxy, control his life.

Dujuan is able to navigate his frustrations with the world around him despite his understanding of the inevitable disparity amongst his people versus the white Australian population, however, he remains full of anger.

For us, his anger can be better understood as the emotional turmoil that occurs as a result of intergenerational trauma, experienced across the board within Aboriginal communities.

When Dujuan rebels in the ways children often do, by skipping school or playing with friends after the hours he’s expected him, by not paying attention in class, the threat of consequence begins at being expelled and too quickly jumps to the very real threat of juvenile detention.

This threat is then passed to mother Megan where once again too quickly talk of child protective services hints at removing the so called troubled child from their family.

Throughout the country, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children are eight times more likely than non-Indigenous children to receive child protection services, as found in the Child protection Australia 2018-19 report by the Australian institute of Health and Welfare.

Genocide followed by prejudice and an entire stolen generation have produced First Nations communities who do not trust readily but remain vocal in restoring agency over their narrative.

In My Blood It Runs dismantles the state education assertion that the current mode of education is beneficial to Aboriginal youth, and by product, lobbies for educated Aboriginal teachings to be better integrated into schools.

In My Blood It Runs is currently available to view via https://inmyblooditruns.com/.