Australian soap Neighbours facing review over racism allegations

Australian soap Neighbours is facing an independent review over allegations of racism.

It comes after actress Shareena Clanton posted a statement on Instagram alleging she had suffered “multiple racist traumas” during her time working on the “highly problematic” show.

Actor Meyne Wyatt, a series regular on the soap between 2014 and 2016, later shared a series of tweets claiming that he too had experienced racism on set.

Neighbours star Meyne Wyatt at the premiere of Strangerland at the 2015 Sundance Film Festival in Utah. Pic: AP
Meyne Wyatt played Nate Kinski in the soap between 2014 and 2016. Pic: AP

The actors, who are both Australian and of indigenous descent, also made claims of sexism and homophobia.

Fremantle Media, which produces the soap, has now said there will be an independent review and that it does not tolerate discrimination.

Chris Oliver-Taylor, chief executive of Fremantle Asia Pacific, said in a statement: “Fremantle is committed to providing an environment where employees and others in the workplace are treated fairly and with respect, and are free from unlawful discrimination, harassment, victimisation and bullying.

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“We do not tolerate behaviour that does not align to our anti-discrimination, equal employment opportunity, harassment and bullying policy and take all complaints very seriously, investigating all allegations fairly and thoroughly.

“We have asked Campfire X, creative leaders in indigenous cultural protocols, to conduct an independent review of Neighbours and the production process.”

Set in Ramsay Street, in the fictional suburb of Erinsborough, Neighbours has helped launch the careers of A-list stars including Russell Crowe, Margot Robbie and Kylie Minogue.

Wyatt, who played Nate Kinski, says he was the first indigenous actor to feature as a regular cast member.

“Do better, be better,” he said in his tweets, addressing production companies and networks. “You can always do better. The work is not finished. Even when you think you have, just know you haven’t. Because you haven’t.”

In her lengthy statement, Clanton, who has an upcoming guest role as Sheila Canning, accused the Neighbours set of being a “culturally unsafe space” and said her time on the show had been “lonely, triggering and traumatising”.

Next to a picture of herself beneath the famous Ramsay Street sign, she said she had been “navigating ongoing counselling” from her time on the soap.

Clanton said for legal reasons she was not naming any of the actors she accused of racism, but alleged: “Twice I endured the ‘N’-word openly.”