More racism claims rock Neighbours

 

More shocking allegations of racism have come out against long-running soap Neighbours, with one former cast member describing the show as the "worst environment I've ever worked in".

Actor Shareena Clanton first detailed the alleged incidents behind the scenes in a bombshell post on Instagram, two weeks ago.

She said she struggled to write anything positive about "the months I endured on Neighbours after multiple racist traumas" caused by working on "this highly problematic show".

Ms Clanton, who played Sheila Canning in a six-week guest role, added it had been "lonely, triggering and traumatising to work in such a culturally unsafe space".

The alleged incidents she reeled off included a senior member of production laughing at the terms "cum" and "slut", a senior staff member laughing while using the term "slave driver" in reference to himself and a white actor calling an actor of colour a "lil' monkey".

New damning allegations hit Neighbours when Shareena Clanton spoke in her first television interview since going public.
New damning allegations hit Neighbours when Shareena Clanton spoke in her first television interview since going public.

It triggered a number of former cast members to come out with similar concerns, calling for a systemic overhaul of the Channel 10 production.

Actor Meyne Wyatt - who went on the show from 2014 to 2016 and was the first regular cast member on Neighbours from an Indigenous background - said he "encountered racism on set".

"It involved the c-word and I called that shit out and it didn't happen around me again. Though I did walk in on this incident in particular, so I have no doubt things were being said behind my back," he posted on social media.

Shareena Clanton’s post on Instagram.
Shareena Clanton’s post on Instagram.

New damning allegations hit the show on Monday when Ms Clanton spoke in her first television interview since going public.

"There's a workplace environment that seems to have made it permissible for many years that discrimination, harassment and bullying has been allowed to occur," she told ABC 7.30.

"There is something systemic here, there is something dangerous."

She said that when she heard the n-word used for the first time by other cast members, she reported it.

"I went straight to the producers … spoke about the racist terminology and history behind it and hurt, and the individual was apparently put on a warning," she said.

She said she asked for the use of the n-word to stop, but it happened a second time.

Indigenous actor Shareena Clanton has alleged inappropriate behaviour on the Neighbours set. Picture: Supplied
Indigenous actor Shareena Clanton has alleged inappropriate behaviour on the Neighbours set. Picture: Supplied

While the word was not directed at her on the first two occasions, a teary Ms Clanton said the slur was then repeatedly used at her later conversations with other staff members.

"That was still used, and then laughed at even further by people who thought it OK and appropriate, and then to think such a word is funny because it's used in American rap music," she said.

"Calling it out left me isolated, bullied, marginalised. I felt lonely and no-one knows the trauma that racism imprints into your soul. And we have to, every day as First Nations, as people of colour, we have to wear armour when we step outside of our doors."

Sharon Johal - who has Indian heritage - left the show in March after four years as character Dipi Rebecchi.

She said a cast member "referred to me as 'the black one' and/or 'blackie' behind my back in the presence of other crew members".

She also said a now-former cast member "repeatedly mimicked the Indian character Apu from The Simpsons with accompanying Indian accent and movement of head in my presence, despite me requesting they desist".

Sharon Johal – who has Indian heritage – left the show in March after four years as character Dipi Rebecchi. Picture: Channel 10
Sharon Johal – who has Indian heritage – left the show in March after four years as character Dipi Rebecchi. Picture: Channel 10

Ms Johal said she communicated these comments to management but little was done.

The ABC said the production company for Neighbours, Fremantle, declined 7.30's interview requests, as well as the show's current executive producer and its broadcaster Network Ten.

The company instead offered a statement saying: "We remain committed to ensuring a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees on the set of Neighbours and take very seriously any questions about racism or any other form of discrimination".

"We are engaging an independent legal investigation to work concurrently with Campfire X's cultural review and hope to work directly with the individuals that have raised concerns, following which we will take whatever next steps are appropriate."

Ms Clanton said she had taken her complaints to Fremantle's management and HR department.

anthony.piovesan@news.com.au

Originally published as More racism claims rock Neighbours



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