4BC: No Struggle Street in Logan

28 May 2015

SUBJECT/S: Logan; Struggle Street

DAVIS: Twelve minutes past four but I want to change gear here a little bit. Did you watch ‘Struggle Street’?  Plenty of media coverage about it but did you watch it? Some who did liked it – they called it an unflinching look at the underprivileged and the issues that affect them and it may have even been a catalyst for change. Those who watched it and didn’t like it called it gratuitous poverty porn. So imagine our surprise this morning when we read the stories kicking around that a second series would be shot here in Logan. We did some digging on this just to try and clarify what was happening.  The production company behind it, KEO Films Australia, said they didn’t have anyone to comment on it.  We phoned them and they said they would get back to us – but no one can tell us if this was the case. Now the journo in Canberra where the story broke said an SBS cameraman told her that he’d been in Logan filming the show. Jim Chalmers is the Federal Member for Rankin which encompasses Logan.  Jim good afternoon can you shed any light on this, mate  – is ‘Struggle Street’ coming to Logan?

CHALMERS: No, it’s not Ben.  You were right that there were whispers this morning going around Canberra that they were and I was asked about it in a media interview quite early this morning. But since then we’ve had a yarn with the people at SBS who have now put out a statement saying they are doing some other filming in Logan about a positive story about a music festival and that they are not doing any filming for a ‘Struggle Street’ style program.

DAVIS: Did they rule out ever doing one?

CHALMERS: The statement says they haven’t made a decision about the future of the program and so read that as you will. But they were, in the conversation that we had with them, pretty clear that the rumour that was going around this morning was wrong  - that unfortunately one journalist had their wires crossed. But it did give me a good opportunity, Ben, to talk about Logan City.  I was born there, I grew up there and I represent it now, as you said, in the Federal Parliament.  And my point then, when I was asked about it, and my point now is really: yes we have our fair share of challenges in Logan City but there are also some tremendous stories to tell. So anyone who wants to tell a story about Logan, we've got to make sure we tell the great stories and not just the stories about the challenges that we face here.

DAVIS: Well Jim that being said, when you hear something like ‘Struggle Street’, I mean just the sheer name of it ‘Struggle Street’, no area would really want to be associated with that tag would they?

CHALMERS:  No, I wouldn’t have thought so. I heard your introduction and I have got to 'fess up and say I didn’t watch the first one for a very simple reason: I didn’t watch the one in Mt Druitt, in my colleague Ed Husic’s electorate because having grown up in Logan City and being quite well-connected in the area and spending a lot of time in the community, I don’t need a TV show on SBS to tell me about the sorts of challenges that we face. And I think you’re right to say that the critics of that program said that those challenges were sensationalised.  You’re also right to say that some people like the idea that we shine a light on some of the challenges.  I think when it comes to things like persistently high unemployment, I think it’s right to say we have a problem there and we need to address it but we need to do that in a calm and rational way.

DAVIS: We are speaking with Jim Chalmers the Member for Rankin which does encompass Logan, shooting down some of those stereotypes because there was a fair rumour going around - and it spread through the media today - that ‘Struggle Street’ Series 2 would be shot in Logan.  We now know at this point in time that’s not the case.  Now Jim some of those issues - I mean there’s unemployment which we touched on - there’s a few other stereotypes about Logan isn’t there?

CHALMERS:  There are and we are constantly pushing back against some of those stereotypes.  Some of the challenges we have, not just unemployment but others are also challenges faced by other communities around the country.  I’m always someone who’s pretty upfront Ben about the things we need to fix in our community.  I never say everything is perfect in Logan even though I love the place and wouldn’t live anywhere else. I’m so proud and pleased I grew up there and I’ve got great mates there and I love representing it.  But I never pretend that everything’s perfect in our community.  The whole reason to put your hand up to represent a place is because you understand the things that can be better and you want to make things better and my main focus is on the unemployment front because I think a lot of the other challenges flow from the fact that we unfortunately have had persistently high unemployment, especially among our young people but not just limited to our young people.

DAVIS: Alright, Jim let’s try and bust it down then because there are going to be people out there that say - hang on,  if there is going to be a ‘Struggle Street’, then Logan would be the perfect opportunity to do it.  What do you think? What issues are there in people’s minds that are perpetuating the idea that Logan would be a perfect place for ‘Struggle Street’? I mean you just touched on unemployment what are the other issues that are confronting your area?

CHALMERS:  Well, first of all Ben in my 37 years, one of the things I have discovered is that a lot of people who express an opinion about Logan have never been there and never really interacted with the place.  I think that’s the first important point, because people do develop a view of a place without having experienced it – that’s the first point.  But of course when you have unemployment which is higher than the state average and higher than the national average and other challenges flow from that, one of the things I am really focussed on and concerned about is the idea about intergenerational dependence on payments – that’s something we have to attack.  We have to attack that in the education system. 

My passion is for education – I think that the earlier you intervene in communities like mine in the education system the better chance you give some of our kids of breaking that cycle – that’s a crucial thing.  But we’ve got other challenges that aren’t unique to us – obviously we would like to get more people to graduate from university from Logan City, we’d like to make sure that people feel safe in our community, I think overwhelmingly they do, but you can always do better, so there are a range of things we want to improve about Logan. But we start from a base of understanding that the place is a terrific place where people look out for each other and look after each other. And the whole point about this rumour that went around today, and every opportunity I’ve had from everyone who has asked me Ben, is I’ve said if it does happen, if it did happen, let’s take the opportunity to tell the great stories about the great people who are making a life in Logan City - the place where I grew up in - in the neighbourhoods right around Logan.

DAVIS: Well Jim, give us the sell then.  You touched on earlier before about some of the great things, the great stories, the great people that live there and I know just recently we’ve been speaking to Louie from the Logan House Fire Support Network.  I mean again that’s got that name attached to it and it’s about the support network, people putting aside their own needs to help those who are in need, I mean that’s just one example, you’ve got plenty more.

CHALMERS:  Yeah absolutely Ben you’re spot on – I know Louie I spent some time with him a couple of weeks ago down at Crestmead.  He’s one of our community champions, there are heaps like him and I think that’s probably the best thing about our community – the way they look out for each other and look after each other.  People are so generous with their time.  Even people who might not be rich in terms of resources are rich in terms of the generosity they show each other. And one of the great things about the job that I have is that I see a lot of that.  For example one of my favourite groups is a group of women called Mission Possible, and what they do is knitting and sewing for people who are in hospital, for young sick kids, for Camp Quality and I hang out with the Mission Possible ladies all the time. They are just a great source of inspiration really and there are heaps of groups like that right around the community. Special Olympics Logan - I go to their basketball training all the time and there is a great guy called Dave Russell who runs Special Olympics Logan Basketball.  Heaps of groups like that - the people of Griffith Uni Logan Campus, the people of the YMCA Vocational School, just so many stories of people who are pitching in to help each other out – not for big financial rewards but big community rewards and because the community is chockers with good people.

DAVIS: Jim you are doing a great job of selling it to us -  we hope it doesn’t come to fruition although there may be people out there who go hang on this does shine a light on perhaps a problem that others may want to sweep under the carpet but Jim thank you for your time this afternoon.  Jim Chalmers he’s the Member for Rankin in Federal Parliament which does encompass Logan.  ‘Struggle Street’, as contrary to the rumour that were swelling around for the last 24 hours, is not coming to Logan.