SBS to air Struggle Street tonight but admits to cutting scenes after consulting with participants

SBS Struggle Street Protest

Garbage trucks in a protest outside SBS’s Sydney offices. Photo: Natasha Raina

SBS will air controversial documentary series Struggle Street after meeting with objectors who launched a petition for SBS to suspend the broadcast, despite a blockade of its headquarters by garbage trucks this morning.

Chief content officer Helen Kellie admitted the first episode has been edited “out of respect”, following a screening with one of the participating families. One of the scenes which has been cut is a man breaking wind, which is featured in the promo.

“We wanted to share with them some of the portrayal in episode one,” Kellie told a press conference. “Indeed they made some small commentary about things that they were uncomfortable with. We immediately out of that meeting made those changes because we felt that it didn’t distort the story.”

Kellie said the role of the program-maker was to “make sure we’re not showing the story the participants wish they could tell”.

“We are telling the story as it unfolded through the six months of filming.”

Kellie told the press conference that SBS took allegations of scenes being engineered during the making of Struggle Street “extremely seriously”, but said they had not been given specific examples of it.

“We’ve requested those claims be made to us when they were brought to our attention yesterday,” she said, adding if the claims were substantiated, then SBS would “clearly take the proper due action”.

The original promo featuring a man farting was pulled by SBS over the weekend.

The petition’s author, Blacktown mayor Stephen Bali, met with Kellie on Tuesday in what he told ABC Lateline was a “robust discussion”.

But on Wednesday morning Bali joined a convoy of garbage trucks that parked outside SBS’s Artarmon studios in opposition to the airing of Struggle Street.

During the Lateline episode, in which Bali and Kellie were interviewed, Bali said: “As far as we understand, no-one was given any independent advice before they entered in when they signed the waivers. Lots of them have – most of them haven’t received a copy of the waivers. A lot of them were induced during the programming.”

Kellie told Lateline: “I absolutely think there’s no deliberate humiliation or exploitation of these individuals.”

Kellie rebuffed claims that participants did not know they were being filmed at times, saying “they were aware of the filming all the way through” and citing an occasion where someone asks for cameras to be turned off.

SBS commissioned the three-part series, produced by Keo Films Australia, which aims to highlight the “enormous challenges” faced by residents of parts of western Sydney.

It airs at 8.30pm tonight.

Jack Fisher


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