SBS has rejected allegations by former Struggle Street participants were encouraged into drug-taking during filming.
Two participants told news.com.au they were high on ice during filming after buying methamphetamines with welfare money freed up when SBS paid for their food and phones.
“Ice is bad s**t man,” Bob Quinn said, “that time [filmed on Struggle Street] when I wouldn’t come to the door, I was pretty out of it that day.”
“You were smashed,” Billie Jo Wilkie said. “SBS gave us a card to put Maccas on and our phones and that so, yeah, we were buying ice.
“It was disgusting. We were given money and taken out to do drug deals. They [SBS] took us out to get on.
“It was s**t.”
In a statement an SBS spokesperson said: “Struggle Street is a challenging but important observational documentary series which allows individuals and communities the opportunity to share their stories. The first series was broadly acknowledged as having a significant impact on the national conversation about social disadvantage, and the support needed to address the complex issues of poverty and hardship in Australia today.
“Struggle Street was made with rigorous documentary production protocols and standards, and we continue to stand by the integrity of the series. As with all productions, duty of care to participants is paramount, and clear and informed consent obtained. Any claims that SBS was involved in alleged criminal activity are absolutely untrue.”
Billie Jo was also sentenced to 13 months prison for driving offences shortly after promos for the show began.
“I copped it in jail. They’d yell out ‘Hey Struggle Street, there goes Struggle Street’,” she has since said.
Released 3 months ago she claimed, “We were tricked into doing it by SBS because they told us it was a documentary and then we have been bullied and degraded on air.
“Now we’re attacked online and just walking down the street everyone knows us.
“It doesn’t matter where we go, everyone knows us. I hate the attention all the time.”
Meanwhile the second season has reportedly been filming in Inala, Queensland, despite filming permits being rejected by council. However it can still film on private property.
Film crews were spotted outside the suburb’s Centrelink office on Tuesday and in other locations earlier.
An SBS spokesperson said: “2.5 million Australians live below the poverty line and Struggle Street is giving people the opportunity to share their stories of hardship with all Australians. Greater understanding of the difficulties faced by many people can help contribute to improving outcomes on issues of social and economic disadvantage. It’s disappointing that some critics are going to great lengths to discourage those voices from being heard.”