OPINION

What came through when I watched Struggle Street? Love. Sure it may have been slightly unconventional, but it’s love nonetheless.

To see the unpredictable Corey — who even scares his mum — continue to come in and out of his parents’ lives high on ice and be accepted back into the family says something of the love they have for each other. We should all be so lucky.

So why am I sticking my beak into the controversial debate surrounding the SBS doco?

Because I, like many, many others, grew up in government housing.

My hardworking mum and dad were never in the position to buy a house. Circumstances just didn’t go their way. Simple as that.

But we never grew up wanting for anything.

My mother has such strength, backbone, love, integrity and class and it shows in every part of how she kept her family and our home.

We may have been ‘housos’ but we didn’t become drug addicts. Or unemployed or preggers or criminals. We were kept busy living a normal life.

Sure, Mum has seen drug deals take place in her area. But hey, so have I in my current inner-city area where I have lived since I left home at 20.

My mother and late dad took total pride in our family home, making it as lovely, homey and perfect as they could. We lived in that same home for years, the same home that only recently was taken away from my mum, not long after dad died as it was deemed ‘too big’ for her to live in on her own. (Too big? You should have seen the size of it!)

According to reports, the family featured in the first episode are preparing to sue over their portrayal in the SBS three-part doco, because it has “ripped them apart”.

But many who watched it just saw Struggle Street as an accurate portrayal of a resilient family doing it very tough in western Sydney, much like many I knew back when I lived in housing commission.

I know what I got out of it wasn’t a ‘poor them’ mentality. Far from it. I thought, ‘this IS reality’. The reality of real life.

In my ‘city’ home life, I sometimes see more unhappy and sad people, even if they are surrounded by million-dollar houses, designer labels, fast cars, smarty pants parties and exotic trips away.

No matter how ‘messed up’ some of these Mt Druitt houses were and how basic the surrounds looked to some viewers. I couldn’t help but detect a genuine, unconventional type of love throughout the whole doco.

You’d never see the Real Housewives of wherever take one of their pals to school in the hope of getting them an education. Or rub the back of their husband who has so many health ailments he can barely get out of bed. Or welcome their ice-addicted son back into the family home.

It’s all too easy for some people to say ‘get off your arse’, ‘move into the city’ and ‘get a job’.

And that seems to have been the reaction of many viewers. But for many, it’s not that easy.

When I saved enough bucks, I made that move from the ‘burbs into the city.

I moved into the ‘city’ with two other girlfriends where we shared an apartment which cost $140 a week to rent.

I took a day at a time, lost some old school friends along the way, but moving from the ‘burbs did nothing but make me work harder for everything I have achieved and that makes me feel pretty OK about myself.

There were times when I was slightly embarrassed to say where I hailed from. But those days are gone.

What breaks my heart is that now my mum feels like all ‘housos’ have now been tarred with the SBS ‘Struggle Street’ brush.

‘Housos’ shouldn’t been condemned or demonised. And we shouldn’t tar every ‘houso’ with the same brush.

My mum and late dad were one of the classiest acts I have ever known. And while we may have grown up with some government housing support, it’s made me the person I am today which I’m forever grateful for.

This article was originally posted on news.com.au