Arts & Entertainment

UNHEARD: The Amazon Prime Series challenging our internal racism 

BY LUCINDA GARBUTT-YOUNG

Last year, when Australians took to the streets in their thousands to demand better coverage of racial injustice, Shahn Devendran and his team at LADBible asked a simple question;

“Why do most Australians know who George Floyd is, but not that many know the names David Dungay Junior or TJ Hickey?”

LADBible began an initiative to bolster support for anti-racism and discrimination groups in our country. Organisations like the National Justice Project, the National Aborginal Torres Strait Islander Legal Service, the Islamophobia Register and Deadly Connections are heavily involved. 

The Unheard Campaign has reached over 100 million people worldwide since it’s launch this February. 

For Devedran, a documentary series by the same name was a natural next step to the campaign’s success. 

“We saw an opportunity to reach a global audience. Speaking with those partners, we identified emblematic cases of the issues that each of these organisations face… We began to build out the Unheard documentary series,” Devedran as the Unheard producer said.

“Partnering with Amazon Prime… we really saw a great opportunity to put a global focus on these issues here at home.”

The six-part series follows key stories of racism in Australia, with a focus on the legal decisions made after each case. It aims to engage broader audiences in critical discussion of racial violence.

“The more focus we have on the decision makers, the more chance there is for a positive change,” Devedran said. 

Racial injustice has been well documented on a case-by-case basis in Australia, but Devderan explained there’s been no system to collate all the data in one place. Stories fall through the cracks as a result. 

“There is a paragraph of an article here, there is a 60-second, 90-second clip on the news, there’s CCTV footage, there’s radio, there’s podcasts, but nobody seems to be listening,” Devedran said.

“These are actually quite common statistics that you’ll see out there, but it’s not often that they are put into one place to tell a cohesive story.

“One of the stylistic choices we made with the documentary was to include all these sources to show that these things are being covered but no change is being made.” 

And Devedren found that getting to know the participants was the most powerful sign that the documentary was important. 

“It’s about having the human connection… If we can explain that this is about a mother who’s lost her son, or this is about a daughter who tried to take her mother to the theatre and was assaulted, people then start to realise that this could have happened to [them].” 

Unheard premieres on Amazon Prime on October 29

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