Australian soap operas, notably Neighbours and Home and Away, are under fire once more for filling their casts with predominantly white Anglo-Saxon actors. This is an age-old criticism of the genre, but as Australia’s diversity continues to splinter, it doesn’t make it any less valid.
University of Queensland Aboriginal studies lecturer Sam Watson said the dramas were operating an “exclusive white family club” that didn’t reflect Australia’s true demographic.
“The producers and directors of these shows are very sadly harking back to the White Australia policy of the ’40s and ’50s,” he said. “Instead of embracing the rich diversities of our country, they are shunning it.”
But if academics are worried now, wait until they get a look at TEN’s new Out of the Blue soap. Made primarily for the English market, it’s whiter than an old box of Rinso…
Media Entertainment and Arts Alliance spokesperson Simon Whipp said, “Our members are missing out on roles for no other reason than the fact that they are not white,” he said.
The White Australia policy began in 1901 to restrict non-white immigration to the country.
Aboriginal MP Marion Scrymgour, who is Arts Minister for the Northern Territory, said people in indigenous communities needed greater representation on television.
“It’s important that young Aboriginal people are able to see there are opportunities for interesting and rewarding employment,” she said.
Yesterday, a spokesman for Channel 10, which broadcasts Neighbours, said the show’s casting policy was not their concern. “We simply broadcast it and don’t have much say as to the content or the people who are hired,” he said.
TV Tonight understands that while FremantleMedia manages casting, Network TEN executives wield enormous power in who is hired and fired.
Channel 7 executives refused to comment when asked why all but one of the Home and Away characters were white.