news

Meet the residents of Mount Druitt you didn't see on Struggle Street.

The new Struggle Street documentary series is showing Australia a side to Sydney they haven’t seen before. But that’s not all there is to the residents of this area.

This week, an SBS documentary series has caused quite the stir for its representation of those “doing it tough” in the western suburbs of Sydney.

It was labelled “publicly-funded poverty porn” by some, and sparked a petition of more than a thousand signatures that yesterday resulted in a garbage truck blockade of the SBS studios.

Struggle Street was labelled “publicly-funded poverty porn” by some.

Yet, despite the many attempts to have it shut down, the show ran last night to mixed reviews.

While some hailed Struggle Street as an accurate and nuanced depiction of an obvious class divide in Australia (read Rosie Waterland’s review here), others maintained it still wasn’t the whole story.

Some residents maintain the show betrays the hard working average Joe (and Josephine) who comprise the majority of the million residents of western Sydney.

mount druitt tafe
Hard yakka at the Western Sydney Institute. Image: Supplied.

The hardworking students of Mount Druitt TAFE, for example, have another story to tell — one free of television-friendly narratives of welfare dependency and drug abuse.

mount druitt tafe
Student Gavin Gagan from the TAFE wants people to see a different side of Mount Druitt. Image: Screenshot via TAFE WSI.
ADVERTISEMENT

“I’m from around here and [the perception shown in Struggle Street] deflates you, in a sense,” one TAFE student said in a video produced by the institution.

“You’ve grown up in an environment where you’re taught respect… and everyone thinks you’re just like this, but we’re not all the same.”

“We’re here to better ourselves, and the teachers can see that.”

Last night, while Struggle Street was airing, students from the Western Sydney Institute were attending their graduation.

The spectacle was rather different from that of the SBS show. Instead of young men and women doing burnouts and smoking bongs, a group of young professionals smiled as they received awards and acknowledgement for their achievements.

Many are unapologetically proud of where they come from.

As one student reflected in the video: “I want to live in Mount Druitt and be successful and tell everyone where I come from and where I still live. And you can still be successful wherever you are.

“It doesn’t matter where you live or what suburb you live in, it matters on the person, really.”

You may also be interested in reading:

The 5 moments of Struggle Street everyone is talking about.

Rosie Waterland: ‘Struggle Street wasn’t exploitative, it was real.’ 

The SBS ‘reality show’ everyone’s talking about.

What did you think of Struggle Street? 

00:00 / ???