The SBS series follows five rich folk as they live among Melbourne’s homeless for ten days. But is it a sensitive experiment in empathy, or poverty porn?
When I worked at a regional coastal newspaper, a semi-regular feature idea was to send a female journalist down to the beach in a niqab, take photos of her walking beside women sunning themselves in bikinis, and then have her write about “what it’s like” to dress like a Muslim in public.
There’s a similar idea at the heart of the CEO Sleepout: a popular fixture on the Australian fundraising calendar, where leaders of companies sleep outside for the night in the middle of winter, to raise awareness for homelessness. This year they even donned VR headsets to “simulate” the homeless experience – a fairly cringey juxtaposition that did not go unnoticed on Twitter.