It made for confronting television, featuring a diverse cross-section of Australian celebrities hoping to have their eyes opened to the harsh realities experienced by those sleeping rough.
Samuel Leighton-Dore

15 Aug 2018 - 10:26 AM  UPDATED 15 Aug 2018 - 10:49 AM

Audiences tuned in around the country last night to watch the premiere of the second season of Filthy Rich & Homeless, with the first episode of the three-part series already sparking important conversation about the  homelessness crisis.

It made for confronting television, featuring a diverse cross-section of Australian celebrities hoping to have their eyes opened to the harsh realities experienced by those sleeping rough.

The second season of Filthy Rich & Homeless sees five high-profile Australians giving up their privileged lives for ten nights to discover what life is like for the homeless in the country’s most expensive city – Sydney.

Those who signed up for the challenge include actor and broadcaster Cameron Daddo, author and journalist Benjamin Law, 'charity queen' Skye Leckie, singer and model Alli Simpson and Independent NSW MP Alex Greenwich.

After being labelled 'Bin Boy' by members of the local homeless community, Daddo, who started his #FilthyRichHomeless journey in Bondi was eventually recognised by locals and offered cash-in-hand work assisting with a local event setup. 

"I'm feeling a little guilty," he admitted afterwards, acknowledging that he was receiving special treatment because of his public profile.

Some viewers were left a little gobsmacked when Daddo, who, it's worth noting, is not a millennial, promptly spent a large chunk of his earnings on an avocado.

Out at Parramatta, Skye Leckie was visibly emotional when stripped of her creature comforts, struggling to find a toilet and being forced to confront the discomfort and safety fears often experienced by women who sleep rough.

Having survived her first night on the street, Leckie made it a priority to find an Opal card, catching a train to familiar surroundings in Sydney's CBD.

"I've gained some control back," Leckie said, describing the comfort of being on the train.

One of the episode's most emotional moments came when Leckie, who had been struggling with the fact that pedestrians wouldn't even look at her was comforted by a kind stranger who handed her $50.00 cash, a coffee and some fresh fruit.

"Just remember to look to the stars," the woman told Leckie, who was overwhelmed by the gesture, before leaving.

The newly crowned queen of dumpster-diving, Benjamin Law, was applauded by viewers for his quick-thinking and general resourcefulness; wading through garbage bins to find a "salvageable" bunch of bananas, some grapes, and a not-yet-expired packet of English muffins.

After approaching a local dentist for dental hygiene supplies the following day, Law realised that he was still carrying his privilege and more able to reach out for help than the long-term homeless.

MP Alex Greenwich set up camp in Redfern, not too far from his constituency and struggled to ask strangers for enough change to buy a coffee.

Comfortable fundraising in his day-to-day work, Greenwich admitted that it was much more challenging asking for small amounts of money face-to-face and teared up as he said that he'd rather be the person giving the coffee than asking for it.

Some of the episode's greatest struggles were experienced by 19-year-old Alli Simpson. The singer and model spent her first 24-hours without eating. Uncomfortable and upset, Simpson spoke about how unsafe and uncomfortable she felt as a young woman on the streets.

Concerned for Simpson's welfare, the program's Dr Catherine Robinson checked in with Alli on Day 2, offering the her reassurance and encouragement.

"You're actually communicating to others just how hard this is," Robinson said.

"We've all got a lot to learn from what you're going to go through, so hang in there."

Viewers were touched when on her second night, Alli was helped by a Orange Sky Australia volunteer Rodney, who offered to direct her to help with washing and a place to shower.

It was a confronting but powerful hour of television - with audiences taking away just how dehumanising and lonely homelessness can be.

As the episode drew to a close, the five participating Australian personalities were informed that "this is just the beginning," and told for the next episode they'd soon be partnered with someone who can offer more insights into the experience of sleeping rough.

"This time you're going out on the streets with a homeless person, a buddy," Dr Robinson said.

Filthy Rich and Homeless continues tonight and tomorrow night on SBS from 8.30pm. A special live studio program will air directly after episode three.

Join the conversation #FilthyRichHomeless

Catch up on episode one on SBS On Demand

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Why homeless teenagers are more likely to couch surf than sleep rough
Many couch surfers are young teens of refugee background who have fallen through the cracks.

How you can help Australia's homeless
Handing money to someone on the street provides temporary relief, but donating to an organisation means your money goes further in supporting the most vulnerable people in society.