Indigenous footy star turned ABC presenter says Australians 'can't accept it's a racist country' that was 'built off the back of slavery and rape' of Aborigines

This is grossly offensive to the many white men who were the real builders of modern Australia.  My ancestors were among them

An Aboriginal ex-AFL player has labelled Australia racist after weighing in on a new documentary that explores the appalling rates of Indigenous incarceration.

Tony Armstrong, who played 35 games across six seasons for three clubs, argued that Australians needed to accept they were living in a racist country after watching unsettling footage from 'Incarceration Nation'.

The documentary takes a deep dive into the imprisonment rates across the country with Aboriginal men making up 29 per cent of the male prison population and Aboriginal women making up 34 per cent of female inmates.  

'This country still can't accept it's a racist country,' Armstrong said on Channel 10's The Project on Thursday. 

'You still can't accept it's built off the back of slavery, it's built off the back of dispossession, it's built off the back of rape and pillage of Indigenous people.' 

The former sports star turned ABC presenter had been invited onto the talk show panel to speak about the upcoming documentary. 

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander imprisonment rates have increased over the decade with 12,456 behind bars between July 2019 and June 2020.

The figure is up from 11,989 the previous year and 7,507 in 2010-2011.  

The documentary revealed a startling number of young Aboriginal Australians were being thrown behind bars - some for committing petty crimes.

One included a 16-year-old who was thrown into detention for 28 days after he stole a bottle of water. Another was an 18-year-old who was jailed for 90 days for stealing 90 cents from a car. 

A visibly emotional Armstrong admitted that it was 'hard to watch' the unsettling footage. 'My heart is going a million miles an hour,' he said. 'There's so many points to pick up on.

'We talk about incarceration rates, you're not seeing white kids getting jailed for stealing a bottle of water.

'You're trying to find a way to rehabilitate them, you're asking what are the reasons why they ended up stealing that bottle of water? You're not just throwing the long arm of the law at them.'

Footage also captured Aboriginal Australians being beaten, tasered and thrown around by police.  

A 14-year-old Dylan Voller was shown hooded and bound to a chair while in youth detention in 2015.  

ABC's Four Corners first aired the footage during an explosive investigative piece in 2016. The photos sent shockwaves across the country and raised questions about the treatment of young inmates.  

'You saw the footage of the young fella, bound up like Guantanamo Bay,' Armstrong said.

'That's not on. But that happens in our country. And we talk about a sense of truth telling, we talk about, you know, needing to accept where we've come from to be able to move forward.'

'Incarceration Nation' will be aired on NITV at 8.30pm on Sunday. The documentary will also be available on SBS On Demand.

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