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The Road to Struggle Street

By Lacey Filipich BEng(Hons) MAICD

Like nearly one million other Australians, I sat transfixed in front of the television on Wednesday 6 May watching the first episode of the three-part SBS documentary ‘Struggle Street’. Leaving aside claims that it was not a fair representation of life in Mt Druitt and was simply headline-grabbing ‘poverty porn’, it was a glimpse into the lives of some people doing it tough. Very tough.

Despite all the press to the contrary, this documentary can do good. It is very tangible reminder of the one in seven Australians living below the poverty line. Looking at the ACOSS report, they’re easy to write off as numbers. After watching this documentary, they have faces and stories. Are there really millions of Australians so consumed with the daily battle of survival? I wish it weren’t so, but perhaps it is.

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Poverty in Australia? You betcha.

By Lacey Filipich, BEng(Hons), MAICD

‘He had heard people speak contemptuously of money:
he wondered if they had ever tried to do without it.’

 – W. Somerset Maugham (1874 – 1965)

In 2005, I watched an Australian film called Three Dollars and was traumatised by it. It’s not a horror film – I just found it confronting, depressing and very plausible. The main character, Eddie, is a successful chemical engineer living in a beautiful home in Melbourne with his lovely wife and daughter… until Eddie gets the chop from his job. In a matter of weeks his life unravels, as he cannot find a job but cannot bring himself to tell the family. He can’t afford his car or the mortgage. Eventually even affording food becomes a challenge. I think I found it so traumatic because it brings into focus that we tend to live life blissfully unaware of how close we probably are to financial ruin should something terrible – like a debilitating illness or job loss – happen. Read more