Premiering Wednesday 9 October, 8.30pm on SBS, the third season of Struggle Street extends the exploration into the economic, social and intergenerational struggles facing Australia’s often-invisible battlers, with a focus on the experience of those living in rural and regional communities.
The new season introduces individuals and families from different parts of the New South Wales Riverina area who are facing a range of challenges – from homelessness to drought, and a crime wave that’s swept through parts of Wagga Wagga.
Mason and Katherine live in Wagga Wagga with their two-year-old daughter. On returning to their house after a night away, they find their home has been ransacked and valuables stolen. They have to consider if they are able to trust in the community again, or seek a better life elsewhere for their daughter.
Katherine says: “Some people say get the heck out of there - it’s not okay that you don’t feel safe. My daughter is three. Do I want her to go to school here? Do I want her growing up in this community?”
Barry and Rosey are dairy farmers near Deniliquin. They haven’t seen decent rain on their farm in four years. It’s the worst drought in living memory, and it means they have to make some tough decisions. The series follows the family as they are forced to decide if they sell their herd of cattle – or even the farm – before the rain finally comes.
Barry says: “The price we are getting, you can’t make money. There’s just no way you can make money. I heard another local farmer tell me that one of the main Victorian manufacturers are not expecting to have any farmers left on this side of the border by the time this drought finishes, because the milk price that the manufacturers can pay is just too low. You know, it’s been the perfect storm: low milk prices, low rainfall and this year the heat’s been really high.”
Rosey adds: “Unless something changes there’s no future here for dairy.”
Peta and Ricky live in a small Riverina town and face the many demands of raising five-year-old twins Cody and Bree. But Cody also has Dent’s Disease – a chronic kidney condition that affects his speech and physical development. Living a long way from specialist medical care, they’re juggling work and travelling long distances daily to care for their family.
Peta says: “Ever since the day he was born it’s been doctors and specialists - we have neurology, endocrinology, urologist, immunologists, his kidney specialist, his paediatrician... It hasn’t stopped. We’re five days a week to Wagga for all his services, and in between, we’re fitting in all the specialist visits. There’s no help in Wagga when it comes to your specialists, you have to travel to Sydney or Melbourne or Canberra. It’s been a massive, massive long five years of getting him to the point he’s at. I didn’t think he’d walk at one stage - I didn’t think he’d talk.”
Seventy-two-year-old Bob has been on the road cycling from town to town for over 40 years, working in a variety of jobs from fruit picking to general labouring. In that time, Bob has lived in his trusty tent without a home to call his own. But last year, Bob came off his bike. Doctors told Bob he needs to stay put to receive medical attention, and he struggles to re-adjust to life in a town, in a house and off the open road.
Bob says: “To me, it's a bit like taking a bird out of the wild and putting it in a cage. How would someone feel if they were put in a cage like a bird? That’s what makes me feel miserable sometimes.”
In the four years since SBS first aired Struggle Street, the country remains at crisis point. Now, more than three million Australians (13.2%) live below the poverty line. Poverty and hardship is a problem that is getting worse, and for more than 30% of the population living outside Australia’s capital cities, disadvantage is more prevalent.
Through sharing stories of adversity and resilience, the new season of Struggle Street will provide all Australians with a deeper understanding of the complex national issues affecting individuals, families and communities living on the land and in the towns of rural and regional Australia.
Struggle Street is produced by Lune Media for SBS in association with Create NSW.
Struggle Street Season 3 premieres Wednesday 9 October, 8.30pm on SBS. The four-part documentary series continues weekly on Wednesdays at 8.30pm on SBS and SBS On Demand.
Struggle Street: Six Months On airs 30 October, after Episode 4, on SBS VICELAND at 9.30pm and SBS at 10.30pm: Marc Fennell checks in on some of the memorable participants in this year’s Struggle Street series, six months after filming, to see if and how their situation has changed.
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For more information: sbs.com.au/strugglestreet