Another Neighbours star has come forward to make shocking claims about her time on the Channel 10 soap after Aboriginal actress Shareena Clanton accused the show of racism.
Clanton, 30, alleged producers fostered a toxic workplace environment and claimed the show was a ‘culturally unsafe space’ in a bombshell Instagram post on Tuesday.
Among several complaints, Clanton accused a staff member of making crude remarks and claimed she heard the N-word used on set twice, prompting production company Fremantle to bring in an Indigenous consultancy firm to carry out a review.
Commenting on Clanton’s explosive post, Saskia Hampele, who played Georgia Brooks from 2012 to 2015 and has made guest appearances since, claimed sexism was rife during her time on set.
‘Whilst I never encountered racism on the show (but am in no way surprised that it existed) I certainly experienced and witnessed a lot of sexism and power structures that protected bullies and bigots instead of calling out and reprimanding abhorrent behaviour. I so deeply respect you for speaking up,’ Hampele wrote.
Fremantle Media has launched an independent review of Neighbours after actress Shareena Clanton (pictured) accused the show of racism in a lengthy Instagram post
Commenting on Clanton’s Instagram post, Saskia Hampele (pictured), who appeared on Neighbours from 2012 to 2015 said she ‘witnessed a lot of sexism and power structures’ during her time on the soap
She said she was ‘deeply saddened’ to hear of Clanton’s experience during her six-week stint on Ramsay Street in a guest role, which is now under investigation.
‘I’m so incredibly sorry that this was your experience,’ Hampele wrote.
‘How lucky they were to have you and it is deeply saddening that your bravery in speaking about your experience wasn’t validated and used as a catalyst for change.’
In a statement, Fremantle’s Asia Pacific CEO Chris Oliver-Taylor said ‘all complaints are taken seriously and we are investigating all allegations fairly’.
‘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,’ Mr Oliver-Taylor said.
‘We do not tolerate behaviour that does not align to our Anti-Discrimination, Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO), Harassment and Bullying Policy and take all complaints very seriously, investigating all allegations fairly and thoroughly.’
Clanton (pictured) alleged on Instagram on Tuesday that producers fostered a toxic workplace environment and that the show was a ‘culturally unsafe space’
Fremantle has asked Campfire X, creative leaders in Indigenous Cultural Protocols, to ‘conduct an independent review of Neighbours and the production process’.
Clanton, who has also starred on Wentworth, vowed to never work on Neighbours again after claiming her stint on Ramsay Street was marred by ‘multiple racist traumas’ which have required ongoing counselling.
‘I’m 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,’ she wrote on Instagram.
‘It’s been lonely, triggering and traumatising to work in such a culturally unsafe space.’
While she didn’t name specific staff members, Clanton listed several ‘racist’ and problematic incidents she apparently witnessed during filming.
She claimed: ‘A (staff member) thought it funny and appropriate to openly laugh at the word ‘cum slut’ by a cast member who loudly spoke about ‘cum’, ‘cum’, ‘cum’ in front of other cast and crew.
Among several complaints, Clanton (pictured) accused a staff member of making crude remarks and claimed she heard the N-word used on set twice
‘Due to my insistence of engaging a Wurundjeri Elder to be included for ongoing cultural safety reasons like cultural protocols followed and debriefing, I was told “this is not a film production, Shareena” and that “we simply don’t have the budget”.
‘The humble few hundred dollars a week Aunty and I proposed was in contrast to the thousands of dollars actors were receiving each pay. I paid Aunty directly out of my own income to make up for this lack of budget.’
She continued: ‘A senior staff member openly laughed whilst using the term ‘slave driver’ in reference to him “working hard”. My management at the time didn’t help as they endorsed/encouraged this “office banter”. I fired the agent.
‘Overt and covert levels of racism were rife, often disguised as “jokes”, like a white actress openly calling another actress of colour a “lil’ monkey”.’
‘Twice I endured the N-word openly being used on-set and in the green room. I was even told to “go somewhere else” by staff when confronting the actor directly because I was making others “uncomfortable”.
‘A white actress openly laughed at the racist N-word to only lie about laughing about it when questioned by HR. She said that I “misconstrued” what she was ‘laughing at’ and that she was laughing at “something else”. That is a blatant lie.
Aboriginal actor Meyne Wyatt (pictured) also took to Instagram to claim he ‘experienced racism on set’ when he was a regular on Neighbours from 2014 to 2016
‘The retaliation for calling out this misconduct and racism often left me ostracised and further marginalised. What was meant to (be an) HR follow-up (to) discuss this led to them saying they were unsure of “what else they could do”.’
Abriginal actor Meyne Wyatt, who was a regular on Neighbours from 2014 to 2016, also took to Instagram to claim he ‘experienced racism on set’.
‘It involved the c-word and I called that sh*t out and it didn’t happen around me again,’ Wyatt claimed.
‘I did walk in on this incident in particular, so I have no doubt things were being said behind my back. I have too much experience to believe otherwise. And it is disappointing, but not at all surprising, to hear that five years later racism continues to be present in that workplace. But what can you say, we are in Australia.’
Clanton’s guest appearance on Neighbours is set to air next week.
A Freemantle spokesperson told TV Blackbox: ‘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.
‘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.’