Growing Up Poor
Four Corners (2013)
In contrast to Decadence: The Meaninglessness of Modern Life, which highlights life in the Australian middle class, Growing Up Poor is a heartbreaking TV documentary about the children of a government subsidized housing project in Claymore, a suburb southwest of Sydney Australia.
The children talk quite poignantly about what it’s like to be bullied at school, to have parents who constantly argue and/or hit one another, to constantly confront the random violence associated with alcohol and drug abuse and to frequently hear and see police helicopters hovering overhead.
Claymore has the largest proportion of children in Australia. It also has a teen pregnancy rate that’s double the national average.
What I found most striking about the film is that Claymore children under 12 are still optimistic about having a future life different from their parents. By 12, they have given up hope and are resigned to a future life of poverty and chaos.
The former Labour government recognized the mistake of concentrating extreme poverty in a single suburb and launched a project to gradual board up Claymore homes and relocate the families. Tony Abbott’s government halted the process, claiming there was no money to continue it.
Instead they have built a multimillion dollar performance center at the local high school. By inspiring Claymore teenagers that “anyone can be a rock star,” they conveniently repudiate any responsibility for addressing the root cause of their poverty.