SBS doc looks at life in Struggle Street

09 April, 2015 by Press Release

In the heart of the ‘lucky country’ some Australian families and individuals are living on the fringes, facing the daily hardships of unemployment, drug addiction and illness; struggling just to get by.

New three-part, fly on the wall observational documentary series Struggle Street gives a voice to those doing it tough right on the doorstep of Australia’s most affluent cities.


Filmed in the public housing estates of Sydney’s western suburbs, residents invited cameras in for exclusive, uncensored access to their lives over a six month period. The result is an eye-opening glimpse at real life in under-resourced Australian communities – raw, honest and unfiltered.

Telling their own stories in their own voices, Struggle Street shines a light on part of Australian society often overlooked and misunderstood. Their stories are at times confronting, but also heartwarming and inspiring.

The program uncovers how a range of complex issues– low-incomes, unemployment, postcode discrimination, minimal education, addiction, long term illness and generational cycles of disadvantage – which shape the lives of these residents.

In Struggle Street, meet the people behind the labels ‘dole bludgers’, ‘housos’, ‘druggos’, and find out the circumstances and life events that led them to the difficult situations they face today.

Peta and husband Ashley have ten kids and eighteen grandkids between them. Both were employed, Peta in the catering industry and Ashley as an interstate truck driver for 30 years, until severe family illness forced them out of work and onto benefits. Physical and mental illness, disability and drug addiction are part of their daily life, as they try and do their best for their kids, make ends meet and keep their family together.

Bob’s wife suffered a catastrophic medical condition and his life has been on a downward spiral ever since, battling drug addiction and the housing authorities. Bob’s girlfriend Billie-Jo is pregnant and, born a methadone addict, is managing her own drug issues before the birth of their baby.

Erin, 21, is a single mum and has taken homeless teenager Bailee under her wing as she tries to get a roof over her head and her life on track.

William is an Indigenous man living rough in the bush just outside Mt Druitt, using homemade slingshots to hunt birds to eat. William doesn’t have formal ID documents and, caught between two cultures, is struggling to find his place in society.

Young adult Chris has tense relationships with both his mum, and her twin sister Aunt Michelle who he lives with. Dealing with constant family turmoil, his own mental illness, and living in an area plagued with high youth unemployment, Chris has just managed to land his first job as a cleaner and with it a reason to stay on the straight and narrow.

What emerges through the most challenging of circumstances are powerful stories of family bonds, love, resilience and hope, and a determination to make the best of what you’ve got when you’re on Struggle Street.

Three-part Australian series Struggle Street was produced by KEO Films Australia and premieres Wednesday 6 May at 8.30pm on SBS ONE. Join the conversation on Twitter #StruggleStreetSBS.

Struggle Street was produced with the support of Screen Australia and Screen New South Wales.