Mounty County

Mount Druitt. It just sounds rough, dirty, poor, and dangerous. Why would anyone want to go there? But why does everyone feel this way? The media has painted this area of Western Sydney, and Western Sydney in general as a crime filled area of gangs, thugs, and drugs. This has affected nearly everybody who isn’t a resident of the suburb or surround suburbs view. When hearing the words ‘Mount Druitt’ people often think negative or funny thoughts, rarely a positive comment is made about this area from non-residents. Mount Druitt has had an interesting past, and at one point being one of the poorest suburbs in New South Wales, but at the moment is improving positively only being held back by the media’s influence on the perception of this town.

The area of Mount Druitt was first established in 1837 as Major George Druitt was granted 2,000 acres of land for his services. Druitt arrived in Australia with the colony and worked as a supervisor for the maintenance of roads and bridges. The area of Mount Druitt was mainly focussed around the railway and it wasn’t until 1960 where major developments were made to make this town majorly residential. Housing commission homes were first built in the area in 1966.

Over the years Mount Druitt was targeted by the media in the forms of television news and newspaper reports for its crime and even education. In 1997 the Daily Telegraph published an article with a school photo about the students of Mount Druitt High who graduated in 1996. Headlined as ‘The Class We Failed’ the article discussed how the students were graded during the HSC and that their tertiary entrance rank was below 45. The newspaper later apologised as the court ruled the article as defamation to the students by suggesting that they were ‘all so stupid they had failed the HSC.’

Defamation of Mount Druitt is so common but so rare to be called up on. Mount Druitt does have crime and drugs within it, but that is not all it has. News story after news story are reported so regularly of the ‘dangerous’ Mount Druitt.

It is also not only the news that focuses on the elements of Mount Druitt as SBS recently released the widely discussed documentary ‘Struggle Street.’ Documenting the crimes and drug use of residents within Mount Druitt, the program focussed on the negative side of Mount Druitt, what the audience were expecting because that’s all they know Mount Druitt as. A Joke. The streets were littered, covered in graffiti, people were desperate for drugs, couldn’t speak without swearing, and everyone was deemed as unintelligent. If you actually stop and think about that it is not very believable, but it only helped tarnish people’s perception of the town.

During scenes shown outside Dawson Mall saw smokers sitting around during the middle of the day. Behind the crew and deliberately not shown and only 100m behind the camera was the two-story Library known as the Mt Druitt Hub. Always full of people, much more than were shown behind the mall, this library also doubles as a community centre hosting many events for the creative arts.

Houses during the show were also depicted as trashed and dump-like. Very recently a house in Mt Druitt just sold for $1 million and it is not rare to see pristine residential areas inside the suburb.

My friend and I have hitchhiked down the south coast of New South Wales. In each car we would get to know our driver, and every time we mentioned we were from Mount Druitt we would get a negative response. Even people living on farms in Bega had been affected by the media’s portrayal of Mount Druitt.

Since the release of struggle street groups have released videos and articles detailing how Mount Druitt does struggle in some areas, but has a culture and a hard working community that was misrepresented in the SBS series.

Struggle Street and the media’s target of Mount Druitt are negative. There are people in Mount Druitt who live like this, and it is good to shed light on the problems within Sydney to prompt changes to be made. Mainly though it has caused people to see Mount Druitt as an ugly and unsafe place to be, tarnishing the reputation of Mount Druitt residents in their daily lives, whether it be careers, relationships, or other aspects of life. With the media affecting people’s views of Mount Druitt it is hard to be taken seriously when living in Mount Druitt. People’s perceptions need to change.

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