Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts (Honours)


School of Humanities and Social Inquiry


In neoliberal Australia there has been an increase in the criminalisation and incarceration of Indigenous peoples. This thesis explores how everyday policing practices, like discretionary policing and surveillance, are covertly reproducing settler colonialism. To do so, I employ Brett Story’s (2019) concept of carceral space, which refers to the dispersal of carceral practices and power out of the prison and into public spaces. I utilise a case study approach to demonstrate how two ‘micro’ policing practices – offensive language offences and the practice of stop and searches – contribute to the discriminatory policing of Indigenous Australians. I demonstrate that these carceral practices have become systemic tools in the containment and incapacitation of Indigenous peoples’ as political subjects. To do so, I draw upon critical Indigenous studies scholars, settler colonial scholars, geographers and abolitionists. My aim is to shift the focus away from incarceration and toward the everyday over-policing practices designed to dispossess, manage and control Indigenous Australians in public spaces. In particular, I focus on the sites of police surveillance, criminalisation and arrest, which are often overlooked in the broader debate. I conclude that to overcome rising rates of Indigenous criminalisation and incarceration, the work of prison abolitionists must be heard. If settler Australia is serious about reducing rates of Indigenous imprisonment, the current criminal justice system – which is built on colonial violence – must be dismantled, with funds redistributed into social and economic support systems.



Unless otherwise indicated, the views expressed in this thesis are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of the University of Wollongong.