Series returns to highlight economic inequality.
Staff writers

16 Nov 2017 - 12:01 AM  UPDATED 29 Nov 2017 - 3:12 PM

With 2.99 million Australians are living below the poverty line, SBS is bringing back its uncompromising observational documentary series Struggle Street, to re-ignite a conversation about disadvantage in Australia today. 

The six-part series will screen across two weeks on SBS. Episodes will premiere at 8.35pm on consecutive Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays from 28 November.

The first series of Struggle Street ignited national debate around these issues, helping Australians to better understand the realities of social and economic hardship. Series two will continue this vital national conversation.

In 2017 the country remains at crisis point with unemployment, homelessness, rising drug use, mental illness, soaring rents and declining industries among the complex issues that affect Australians every day. The Australian Council of Social Service (ACOSS) and the UNSW Social Policy Research Centre estimate that 13.3% of the population now lives below the poverty line. 

How to watch Struggle Street on SBS

Episode 1: Tuesday 28 November, 8.30pm on SBS
(Repeats Friday 1 December, 8.30pm on SBS VICELAND)
Episode 2: Wednesday 29 November, 8.35pm on SBS
(Repeats Friday 1 December,9.25pm on SBS VICELAND)
Episode 3: Thursday 30 November, 8.35pm on SBS 
(Repeats Friday 1 December, 10.30pm on SBS VICELAND)
Episode 4: Tuesday 5 December, 8.35pm on SBS 
(Repeats Friday 8 December, 9pm on SBS VICELAND)
Episode 5: Wednesday 6 December, 8.35pm on SBS 
(Repeats Friday 8 December, 10pm on SBS VICELAND)
Episode 6: Thursday 7 December, 8.35pm on SBS 
(Repeats Friday 8 December, 11pm on SBS VICELAND)

Full catch-up of each episode will be available at SBS On Demand after broadcast. 



Series two of Struggle Street was filmed across a six-month period in locations in both Queensland and Victoria, and tells the personal stories of a diverse group of Australians who are experiencing social and economic hardship.  The raw and unflinching portrayal of their struggles is a vital story that only SBS can tell. 

Over two weeks, the series will delve deeper into some of the key social issues that are affecting millions of Australians. It explores the damaging impact of the decline in manufacturing industries, homelessness, particularly among women aged 55+, as rent and house prices continue to rise. It will also examine the financial difficulties facing Australia’s disability carers; the ramifications of illicit drug use and the daily challenges facing those who live with mental and physical illness.

In order to raise further awareness of the help available to Australians affected by the issues raised in the series, SBS is working with a number of charities and organisations who will provide further context, information and resources, including the Social Policy Research Centre, and the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre.

Associate Professor Frances Kay-Lambkin from the National Drug and Alcohol Research Centre said, “Struggle Street series two presents a sobering view of life for many Australians living with mental illness, alcohol or other drug use, and additional challenges...not just those who appear in the documentary. I hope Australia views the people in these stories with compassion, and a realisation that they are doing the best they can with what life has presented them with. I also hope they appreciate the incredible resiliency these people have, and are moved by their stories. I commend SBS for their work on this important documentary.”

Some of the key issues featured in the series include:


Despite an increase in the number of Australians working full time, the ripple effect of the country’s car manufacturers closing last year is expected to culminate in the loss of 200,000 jobs alone. Struggle and hardship is not just limited to those without work; nearly a million working Australians are also living on the poverty line.

Homelessness and housing issues

Homelessness is one of the most potent examples of disadvantage and social exclusion in Australia today and affects more than 105,000 people.

Women aged over 55 are the fastest growing demographic and nearly half of those who leave prison in Australia are homeless within the first six months.

Substance abuse

According to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW), the number of people illicitly using drugs has increased from 2.3 million to 3.1 million in recent years and the number of regular ICE users has tripled to 250,000.

Mental illness

Mental illness comprises a wide range of disorders and its influence is far-reaching for society as a whole. Issues associated with conditions such as depression, anxiety and stress include poverty, unemployment and homelessness.

More than four million Australians will experience a mental disorder at some time in their life of which nearly a third will have a drug or alcohol problem.


In 2015 there were 2.7 million unpaid carers in Australia. Around 856,000 are primary carers, with an average age of 55. A quarter of Australian carers on benefits live below the poverty line.

In addition to the main program, SBS will also air support content across the network including an NITV The Point special about Indigenous housing issues on Wednesday 29 November, a discussion show on SBS on 7 December and The Feed special on SBS Viceland on Friday 8 December.

Struggle Street series two is produced by KEO Films with funding support from Screen Australia and Film Victoria.