The third season of Struggle Street travels to the Riverina, an agricultural region in south west New South Wales. Participants live in and around Wagga Wagga, one of the region’s town centres. They have opened their homes and lives to share the struggles they’re living with.
Barry and Rosey
Barry’s family have been dairy farmers for a century and a half. Barry, 54 and his wife Rosey, 49, with their two young children, Annabella, two, and Lincoln, five, live in Deniliquin in the southern Riverina. As the drought stretches on relentlessly, their farm is on its knees. A lack of government-allocated water, escalating costs and the fixed price of milk have culminated in desperate times for Barry and Rosey. Rain is their only chance of salvation. Can they stay afloat long enough to save their farm?
For over four decades, 72-year-old Robert, known as Bob, has lived on the road, cycling to jobs from rural town to rural town, mostly living in a tent or makeshift lean-to. But since sustaining injuries when he came off his bike, he’s been forced to stay put. When we meet him, he’s living in a caravan on the edge of North Wagga Wagga and dealing with ongoing medical conditions. Facing the prospect of having to stay put, Bob is not taking well to the idea of giving up his itinerant lifestyle.
Mason and Katherine
Mason and Katherine live in Tolland, five kilometres from downtown Wagga Wagga. The suburb has developed a bad reputation due to its high unemployment rate and growing crime. Mason is looking for work and Katherine is stay-at-home mum to two-year-old daughter, Suzianna. Their home is a drop-in centre of sorts. Katherine’s taken in two pregnant teenagers and also helps Mason’s partially blind best mate, Ethan. When their home is broken into and ransacked, Katherine questions the environment in which she’s raising her child.
Frank and Tina
Ashmont is another Wagga Wagga suburb that’s seen its fair share of crime in recent years. Long-term residents Frank and Tina are increasingly frustrated by what they see as a lack of action by authorities to put a stop to a spate of arson attacks and burglaries in the area.
When we meet Kahlia, 19, she is one of the pregnant teenagers living with Katherine and Mason. After surviving a troubled childhood during which she was moved between various homes, and overcoming an ice addiction in her earlier teen years, Kahlia is determined to put her past behind her and start afresh as she awaits the birth of her first child.
Wayne has had enough of Wagga Wagga’s growing crime rate, and to do something about it, he’s started a Neighbourhood Watch group. He regularly pays visits to residents who’ve been affected by crime, including one woman whose car was fire-bombed while it was parked in her own backyard.
The Rock, a small town south west of Wagga Wagga, has been home to 45-year-old Rodney his whole life. For most of his adult life, he’s struggled to find permanent housing, battling with mental health and alcohol issues. For the past five years, he’s lived in a caravan parked on the outskirts of town, but he’s determined to leave alcohol behind and find himself a more stable living situation.
Peta, Ricky and the twins
Peta and Ricky are parents to five-year-old twins, Cody and Bree. As well as being behind in the development of his speech and movement, Cody suffers from Dent’s disease, a chronic kidney condition that requires constant medical attention. The lack of specialist health care in their Riverina town of Nangus and surrounds means they have to make frequent trips to Sydney and Melbourne. Meeting their medical expenses is a huge burden.
When rent in the city became too high to afford, Marie-Anne, single mother of seven, moved to the tiny Riverina town of Matong, population 160. Eighteen years on, her youngest three daughters still live at home and help look after her – she lives with a physical disability after suffering a series of strokes. But with no job prospects in town for the girls, they’ll likely have to move on, meaning Marie-Anne faces a difficult future on her own.
Season 3 of Struggle Street premieres Wednesday 9 October at 8.30pm on SBS. The four-part documentary series continues weekly on Wednesdays, with encore screenings on SBS Viceland Thursdays. Episodes will stream at SBS On Demand after broadcast.