SBS series Struggle Street sparks debate in Mt Druitt


A fresh debate has been ignited on the plight of disadvantaged communities following the broadcast of SBS's controversial documentary, Struggle Street.

Before anyone had even seen Struggle Street, the documentary was stirring debate.

So it's little wonder that 1.3 million viewers tuned in to make up their own minds.

Fairfax Entertainment Reporter Michael Lallo said the figures were a surprise.

"It is SBS's highest rating documentary under the current system," he said. "It beat reality TV shows and was the most-watched show in Sydney last night. Huge figures. Nobody really expected this."

The show was condemned by some as "poverty porn" before the broadcast but received a strong response upon broadcast and trended on Twitter around the country.

Social Services Minister Scott Morrison today defended the series.

"I thought there were some very real issues that were canvassed in that programme," he said.

Farah Farouque, of the St Laurence Brotherhood, said the issue was complex.

"You can never depict poverty in Australia through the lens of a few people but I did find there was hope and resilience there to be found," he said.

SBS reporter Jessica Rich visited Mt Druitt today and said the reaction on the ground was mixed.

Some people maintained it unfairly tainted the whole community while many thought it accurately highlighted the plight of the disadvantaged.

"It was probably trying to represent not just Mt Druitt, but similarly areas all over the country," one resident said.

"I thought it was quite disrespectful to the community of Mount Druitt," said another.

Blacktown mayor Stephen Bali yesterday led a convoy of protesters to SBS headquarters and today he was focused on the road ahead.

"We really need to look forward to seeing if we can lobby the federal and state governments to ensure that funding is returned to those community groups," he said.

SBS has fast-tracked the rest of the series and the final two episodes will be aired next week. 

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