A podcast from inmates at the Darwin Correctional Centre has taken out the top prize at the coveted Australian Podcast Awards.
‘Birds Eye View’ took out the best documentary podcast at the Awards and then collected the top prize.
The judges commended the real and powerful women behind the podcast. “Raw, insightful, heartbreaking and empathetic. Like Ear Hustle, the show offers a window into the lives of incarcerated people, but here, centring the voices and inner lives of women in a men’s prison. As an independent project, this represents a high creative, sonic and ethical watermark for Australian podcasting,” the judges stated.
“A masterful example of ‘slow podcasting’, with subtle, quiet, participant-led production that has the confidence not to draw attention to itself, and balances dark, challenging themes with lightness and joy.”
Being a woman in a man’s prison
Birds Eye View is the first podcast made with women from the Darwin Correctional Centre.
Located just outside Darwin, the centre accommodates 1048 prisoners, with only 80 places for women.
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 the women of sector four.
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,” the website reads.
A two-year project come to life
“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,” the website explains.