• Restauranteur and entrepreneur Pauline Nguyen is one of the five high profile Australians taking part in the third season of 'Filthy Rich & Homeless'. (Supplied, Twitter)Source: Supplied, Twitter
"We are all a pandemic or any other illness away from homelessness," one viewer reflected.
Samuel Leighton-Dore

10 Jun 2020 - 10:31 AM  UPDATED 11 Jun 2020 - 11:00 AM

Last night, the third season of SBS documentary series Filthy Rich and & Homeless reminded Australian TV audiences of the challenges faced by Australia's rough sleepers and homeless population.

The social experiment's five new participants come from different professional backgrounds and levels of influence, each hoping to broaden their understanding of Australia's homelessness crisis.

So, who's taking part?

Well, there's emergency doctor and businessman Dr Andrew Rochford, Deputy Lord Mayor of Melbourne Arron Wood, restaurateur and entrepreneur Pauline Nguyen, comedian and radio presenter Ciaran Lyons and actress and model Ellie Gonsalves. Guided by presenter Indira Naidoo and homelessness expert Catherine Robinson, the five well-known Australians  have agreed to swap their privileged lifestyles for 10 days of being homeless, all to find out what it’s like to go from having everything to having absolutely nothing.

"There’s a crisis in Australia, and it’s getting worse," the program's narrator reminded viewers at the show's opening.

"Latest figures show 116,000 people have no place to call home. And it’s a problem that’s not just hitting our cities, but regional areas, too, meaning homelessness is a frightening possibility for more of us than before.

"For these high-profile Australians, it’s about to become a terrifying reality."

While last night's episode saw each of the five participants sent out to different parts of Sydney for their first experience of sleeping rough, some also tuned in and live-tweeted the show, sharing insights and steps they've taken since shooting concluded pre-coronavirus.

"Some watching #FilthyRichAndHomeless #filthyrichhomeless have asked what have you done?" Wood tweeted during the series premiere. 

"I’ve secured $500,000 for crisis beds @salvos Bourke st, kept $440,000 to fund nightcafe providing services to 150 rough sleepers each night & I continue to volunteer at salvos."

The Mayor continued: "I completely acknowledge that this alone won’t solve homelessness and there’s much more to be done, but I’m working to do as much as I can. If we can all come together on this I think making a huge dent in the national shame of homelessness is truly possible."

Counselling Lyons after his first night on the streets, Catherine Robinson highlighted the struggles of securing "food, money, sleep," pointing out that humans need more than these three essentials in order to thrive.

"It’s not just hunger, or exhaustion, that may be very significant barriers to trying to resolve rough sleeping," she told the young comedian.

"There’s also, for many people, a large well of grief that sits under rough sleeping. So that’s another, I guess, burden and struggle that people are also experiencing, quite apart from all the physical issues of being on the street as well."

In parting words of wisdom, Robinson suggested: "have a think about how limited your horizon, right, has suddenly become in 24 hours."

While some viewers were keen to help make meaningful change, others were prompted to reflect on how close, particularly with COVID-19, so many Australians are to the poverty line.

"We are all a pandemic or any other illness away from homelessness," one viewer reflected.

Others even had suggestions of their own: "Why can't all the empty student accommodation be used as temporary housing for Australia's homeless people during winter, and dollars put into building public housing as part of economic revival[?]"

Filthy Rich & Homeless airs over three nights – June 9, 10 and 11 – on SBS at 8:30pm and SBS On Demand after broadcast.

Filthy Rich & Homeless Season 3 will also be subtitled in Simplified Chinese and Arabic and will be added to the subtitled collection on SBS On Demand, available immediately following its premiere on SBS. 

Australians tune in for 'Filthy Rich & Homeless' season 3
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