BIRDS EYE VIEW is the first podcast made with women in the Darwin Correctional Centre.
“We made this podcast cause we want to shake things up and show you who we really are.”
The Darwin Correctional Centre is located just outside Australia’s most northerly city. It accommodates 1048 prisoners. Eighty places are for women.
“It’s hard being a woman in a man’s prison.”
BIRDS EYE VIEW takes you inside Sector Four where you’ll meet women from all over Australia and a bunch of birds.
“We’ve got three types of birds that come here. There’s kookaburra, white corellas and then there’s the plovers. Without the birds, it’d be very plain. They’re basically our pets in here cause we feed them, we give them water. They know when to come for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”
“Then there’s us – the women of Sector Four.”
Meet Sylvia, Noelene, Kaye, Aimee, Kelly-Anne, Bianca, Trisha, Kiara, Brooklyn, Taise, Rocket, Deanne, Jessica, Naomi, Serafina, Julie, Tegan, Joan, Philomena, Yasmin, Sofi, Kirsty-Louise, Jessee, Beccy, Gillian, Karen, Kym, Tara and Ashley.
Together, they’ll take you to industries, where the women clean Qantas headsets, over to muster for headcount and into the bathroom on razer issue day.
You’ll hear beauty hacks, horoscopes, celebrity interviews, love letters, poetry and lots of stories.
“Not histories, HER-stories!”
“We called it BIRDS EYE VIEW because we wanted to shake things up and give people a new perspective on who we are.”
Just a heads up that this podcast contains material that may be disturbing, especially for survivors of trauma.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait people are advised that the podcast may contain the names and voices of people who have passed away.
BIRDS EYE VIEW is the culmination of a two-year audio storytelling project run by StoryProjects in the Darwin Correctional Centre. One of a number of public health initiatives designed to minimise alcohol-related harm, the project involved workshops and mentoring in field recording, interviewing, editing, vocal techniques, body percussion, scripting and slam poetry.
Framed by three questions - Who are we really? How did we get here? and Where to next? - project participants documented their memories, reflections and the everyday routines of prison life.
At times it was hard going. There were lockdowns and difficult delays. There was shared sadness and deep grief. There were disagreements, discussions and silence. But then there was raucous laughter, lessons in lingo, a space to cry freely, endless bloopers, lots of Tim Tams and the shared excitement of attempting something that’s never been done before.
Very slowly, we edged our way through the messy terrain that comes with sharing creative control in prison. One of the turning points came when we received funding to incorporate the music of women musicians from across the Northern Territory and develop a theme song with Darwin-based musicians Caiti Baker and James Mangohig. This music helped give the stories emotional gravitas while showcasing the incredible musical talent of women in the NT.
BIRDS EYE VIEW is the first podcast made inside the Darwin Correctional Centre and one of the first podcasts ever made by women in prison.
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BIRDS EYE VIEW was co-created with women in the Darwin Correctional Centre. Over two years, more than 70 women engaged in the project, with more than 30 regularly involved. The women who wanted to be acknowledged by name are:
Executive Production: Johanna Bell
Production: Cinnamon Nippard, Leah Sanderson and Johanna Bell
Mixing: Hamish Robertson
Music Coordination: Ben Andrews
Theme music: Caiti Baker and James Mangohig
Featuring music by: B2M, Caiti Baker, Sietta, Serina Pech, Stevie Jean, Wildflower, Shellie Morris, Johnny Green, Stephanie Harrison, Casii Williams, Ceenah, Eleanor Dixon, Emily Wurramara, Ripple Effect, Shana Ray, Nicole Crowe, Kardajala Kirridarra and Dhapanbal Yunupingu
Graphic and web design: Celia Neilson
Legal advice: Kathryn Wilson
Online production: Jess Ong
MARCH 5, 2020 | THE GUARDIAN
'A chance to be more than a number': the female inmates podcasting from a Darwin prison
Stories of warmth, shock and beloved dog Ollie make up BIRDS EYE VIEW, produced by incarcerated women – and layered with new music... READ MORE
APRIL 11, 2020 | THE AUSTRALIAN
A trailblazing podcast reveals that beyond the suffering of women in a Darwin jail lies smart, funny and ironic storytelling... READ MORE
APRIL 14, 2020 | ABC
how a prison podcast helped rocket rewrite her story and change her life
"Little kids get crayons and pencils to colour in with. I was given scales and pot to trim..." READ MORE
MARCH 9, 2020 | ABC
A birds eye view of women's lives inside Darwin Correctional Centre
You may wonder what it's like for a woman in prison. What happens when you arrive in the holding cells? How do you manage each day, and relationships with other prisoners?... READ MORE
MARCH 9, 2020 | SBS
Women inside a Darwin prison have released a podcast about their lives
Birds Eye View features the stories of 18 women who have been incarcerated in Australia’s Top End. Here, two of them speak to SBS News about why it matters that their stories will be heard... READ MORE
MARCH 18, 2020 | ABC: THE DRAWING ROOM
Birds Eye View: a new perspective of women in prison
The BIRDS EYE VIEW podcast helps women in prison in the Top End to tell their stories and prove to the world they are not worthless nor voiceless. Executive Producer, Johanna Bell, spoke with ABC's Patricia Karvelas... READ MORE
MARCH 5, 2020 | TONE DEAF
Birds Eye View: Caiti Baker and Johanna Bell interview each other
Darwin’s Caiti Baker has teamed up with the forthcoming ‘BIRDS EYE VIEW’ podcast, the first podcast to be made by women in prison, and is out this week ahead of International Women’s Day... READ MORE
BIRDS EYE VIEW was created with funding from the Northern Territory Government and the Australia Council for the Arts and additional support from the Prison Songs Impact Campaign and Audiocraft.
We are also grateful to SonyATV, Universal, Mushroom, Wontok, Skinnyfish Music and Music NT for supporting the project. Thanks also to poet Melanie Mununggurr-Williams for running poetry workshops in Sector Four and musician Courtney Barnett for coming inside to do a celebrity interview.
If you’re interested in supporting BIRDS EYE VIEW or StoryProjects, we’d love to hear from you here.
At the end of 2019, when we finished the first episode of BIRDS EYE VIEW
Making a podcast inside a prison is complicated. Sometimes there isn’t a short answer but we’ve tried to answer as many questions as possible.
What do you mean when you say the podcast was co-created?
BIRDS EYE VIEW is a creative collaboration between StoryProjects and women in Sector Four. By co-created we mean that key decisions about the purpose, format and creative process were made together along with recording, scripting and editing.
What is slow storytelling?
Slow storytelling is the opposite to mainstream journalism. Drawing from community cultural development, this approach preferences relationship-centred practice, consent, capacity building, shared control and long editorial timeframes. The first season took two years to create all up!
How did you choose participants for the project?
BIRDS EYE VIEW is the outcome of a two-year audio storytelling project run in the Darwin Correctional Centre from March 2018 – 2020. The project had an open door policy with priority given to women who identified as Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander. Participation was voluntary and women could opt in and out of the project at any time.
How did you pick the stories for the podcast?
After the group identified three questions to guide the podcast (Who are we really? How did we get here? Where to next?) and participated in audio storytelling workshops, we invited women to share their stories via recorded conversations. Some women wanted to share a story and others didn’t. Of the 15 women who volunteered, 12 went on to have their stories featured in BIRDS EYE VIEW. The others weren’t able to continue due to being on remand, loss of privileges or early release.
How can women give consent in a prison system where they have so little control?
Sharing creative control was difficult because the prison system discourages autonomy. From what women eat to how many times they can flush the toilet, women have very little say over things that impact their lives. For this reason, StoryProjects went to great lengths to ensure a culture of informed consent where the terms of participation were communicated both verbally and in writing and women were given choices about how they wanted to be involved.
How much creative control did the women have over their stories?
StoryProjects undertook a 10-step editorial process so storytellers were able to provide feedback on content, structure and music choices, and record pickups if needed. The women also signed off on the final version before approval by Corrections and mixing. Where a woman completed her sentence prior to final sign-off, StoryProjects worked with the storyteller on the outside to finalise the edit.
Are the women in the podcast paid?
In the Northern Territory, it is against the law for prisoners to earn income from speaking about their crimes, prior to completing their sentences, so all women’s participation was on a voluntary, unpaid basis.
Beyond monetary compensation, women reported many benefits including new skills, increased confidence, a greater sense of empowerment and a camaraderie with their peers. StoryProjects created opportunities for paid employment once women were released, for example, in the presentation of the BIRDS EYE VIEW immersive audio event at Darwin Festival in 2019 and for the launch of the podcast on International Women's Day.
Is StoryProjects making a profit from this project?
Funding for this project was sourced from the Northern Territory Government, the Australia Council for the Arts and the Prison Songs Impact Campaign with in-kind support provided by Audiocraft, Skinnyfish Music, Music NT, Universal, SonyATV, Mushroom and Wontok. The funding was used to develop and deliver the two-year audio project that resulted in the podcast. The podcast is provided free of charge without advertising and the individual audio stories are freely available to community broadcasters. No profit is made.
Is the content censored by the Northern Territory Correctional Services?
Each episode is listened to by a delegate from the Northern Territory Correctional Services before release. Encouragingly, only one request was made to remove the name of an officer and there was no editorial interference. We are grateful to the Northern Territory Correctional services for their ongoing support.
How can I listen to the music you featured in the podcast?
Lots of people have contacted us about the music that’s featured in BIRDS EYE VIEW so we’ve put together a playlist for you here.
Can I contact the women in the podcast?
Receiving mail in jail is a real highlight for the women in Sector Four. If you’d like to write to the women from BIRDS EYE VIEW, you can send a letter or postcard to:
Birds Eye View Team
Sector Four, Darwin Correctional Centre
GPO Box 1066
Howard Springs, NT
And if you include a stamp, they might even be able to write back!
How can I donate wool to Sector Four?
In Episode 8, there’s a callout for yarn donations so the women can keep crocheting. If you’d like to donate yarn, please send it to:
Sector Four, Darwin Correctional Centre
GPO Box 1066
Howard Springs, NT
Please don’t send any crochet hooks or knitting needles as they won’t make it through security!
Are the women available for speaking engagements?
Some of the women involved in the podcast have been released and are interested in building their skills in public speaking. If you’d like to engage someone to speak at a conference or event, please contact us.
Will there be another season of BIRDS EYE VIEW?
The women in Sector Four love telling stories and while StoryProjects doesn’t yet have the funding, we’d like to be able to produce another season. If you’d like to partner with us or donate to the project, please drop us a line.