Neighbours’ racism scandal, explained

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Neighbours is at the centre of scandal this week after two Indigenous actors who have worked on the show made shocking allegations about their experiences.

WATCH: Meyne Wyatt’s incredible speech about racism

Shareena Clanton, who will appear in an upcoming guest role on the long-running soap, took to Instagram to allege she experienced racism while on set and vowed to never work for the show again.

In the wake of her allegations, Meyne Wyatt, who played Nate Kinski from 2014 to 2016, appeared to support her claims and added his own experiences on the Neighbours set.

Shareena Clanton
Shareena Clayton described her stint on Neighbours as lonely, triggering and traumatising” as well as “highly problematic”. (Credit: Instagram)

What did Shareena Clanton allege?

In a lengthy post shared to her Instagram on Tuesday, Wentworth star Shareena Clanton made allegations of experiences that occurred while she was working on Neighbours, describing it as “highly problematic”.

Careful not to name anyone specifically due to fear of legal ramifications, Shareena revealed she had approached the show’s HR department after several incidents but little action was taken.

“Struggling to post anything positive about the months I endured on @neighbours after multiple racist traumas and navigating ongoing counselling from this highly problematic show. It’s been lonely, triggering and traumatising to work in such a culturally unsafe space,” Shareena wrote.

Shareena clanton
The actress vowed to never work for Neighbours again. (Credit: Getty)

The actress went on to list numerous incidents that she found problematic during her time on set, including a senior staff member “openly laughing at the word cum sl*t”, a senior staff member using the term “slave driver” and a person referring to an actress of colour as “a lil monkey”.

Shareena also accused an unnamed employee of laughing at the use of the “N word” slur as well as well as the word being used several times on set and in the green room.

She also claimed she insisted a Wurundjeri Elder be included for “ongoing cultural safety reasons like cultural protocols followed and debriefing” but the request was rejected.

Shareena added: “The retaliation for calling out this misconduct and racism often left me ostracised and further marginalised. In what was meant to have HR follow up and discuss this led to them saying they were unsure of ‘what else they could do’.”

What did Meyne Wyatt claim?

Following Shareena’s post, former Neighbours star Meyne Wyatt weighed in with his own experience on the show.

“I experienced racism on set. It involved the C-word and I called it out, and it didn’t happen around me again,” he said on Twitter.

“Though I did walk in on this incident? So I have no doubt things were being said behind my back. I have too much experience to believe otherwise.”

Meyne Wyatt
Meyne Wyatt (pictured) also shared his experiences and called on the industry to “do better”. (Credit: Getty)

Meyne called on the industry as a whole to “do better”

“These attitudes are prevalent around the industry. And we are f**ken tired of calling this sh*t out, Meyne continued.

“Individuals, actors, cast, and crews! To the production companies, to the networks! Do better. Be better. 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. It saves time from me calling you a racist and humiliating you, if you don’t do sh*t [in] the first place!”

As well as claiming that he experience racism on set, Meyne alleged that “homophobia” was also rife in the workplace.

“The homophobia that was present whilst I was on Neighbours was f**king rampant! The comments and jokes and innuendos were ridiculous!” he penned.

“It made for a very unsafe environment for anyone in the LGBTQIA+ community and the sh*t needs to be stamped out.”

Sharon Johal
“The past week for me has been a traumatising, triggering and painful experience, with the re-surfacing of compounded trauma I have tried to deny, bury and ultimately, survive.” (Credit: Instagram)

What did Sharon Johal say?

Following continued outrage and reports, one of the show’s biggest stars, Sharon Johal, has also come forward.

The actress, who played Dipi Rebecchi on the series from 2017 to 2021, shared an emotional and distressing essay about her experience.

“I’ve been heartbroken to learn that that not one, but two of our First Nations actors from Wongatha/Yamatji and Noongar/Gita Country have shared their experience of racism at my former workplace, Neighbours (of which I am expected to return as a guest performer in the coming weeks),” Sharon began.

“The past week for me has been a traumatising, triggering and painful experience, with the re-surfacing of compounded trauma I have tried to deny, bury and ultimately, survive.”

“Having worked on Neighbours for the last four years and being one of the few people of colour to be employed as a series regular in its 36 year history, I have been asked by many, and feel an obligation to, to share my experiences.”

While she noted many cast and crew have worked to support minorities, she also highlighted some of the disturbing experiences she faced while working on the production.

“This iconic show which has been a wonderful training ground for cast and crew alike and there are many people at Neighbours who are genuinely working behind the scenes to support minorities as much as they can in their respective positions.

“In saying this, my experience on Neighbours has also been painful and problematic.”

She then went on to specifically detail the offensive language used against her.

“On more than one occasion a [non-POC employee] directly referred to me as “you people” when speaking in derogatory terms about an altercation they were involved in with an Indian person.

“The same person repeatedly referred to me as “the black one” and/or “blackie” behind my back in the presence of other crew members. I have been told that the same cast member also repeatedly claims that the show only employs “Indian actors” and diverse actors of colour to “fill their diversity quotas” and “not because they are any good”.”

“Neighbours strives to be a platform for diversity and inclusion on-screen and off-screen.” (Credit: Network Ten)

How did Neighbours respond to the claims?

A Fremantle spokesperson responded to Shareena’s claims via a statement given to media.

Neighbours strives to be a platform for diversity and inclusion on-screen and off-screen. Our quest is always to continue to grow and develop in this area and we acknowledge that this is an evolving process,” the statement read, (via TV Tonight).

“Shareena’s involvement in the creative process and on set was invaluable and hugely educational and will benefit the series moving forward. There have been significant and lengthy discussions with Shareena during her time on Neighbours and we will continue to work with all cast and crew to ensure Neighbours continues to be a fully inclusive environment.”

In a statement to New Idea, Fremantle and Network Ten also responded to the claims.

Chris Oliver-Taylor, CEO of Fremantle Asia Pacific said: “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. We do not tolerate behaviour that does not align to our Anti-Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Harassment & 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.”

A Network 10 spokesperson also responded to the claims saying: “Network 10 does not tolerate discriminatory or racist behaviour in any form. We work closely with all our production partners to ensure everyone has access to a diverse, inclusive and safe working environment. We support ongoing education and dialogue in the fight against racism and discrimination. We will work with Fremantle, and all cast and crew, to investigate and ensure Neighbours continues to foster a fully inclusive environment.”

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