Kindness in show’s wake
LIFE after Struggle Street has proven surprisingly positive for Chris Wallace, whose new-found celebrity status has led to him being given a car and finding love with a fan.
The SBS documentary followed Mr Wallace as he started a new job at the Penrith Panthers Club as a cleaner – where he is proud to say he still works – and delved into the tense relationships he shares with his mother and her twin sister.
The 22-year-old is the first to admit he was chosen to be the show’s positive story.
“They said they were looking for people going through hardship to show how they struggle to get through and make a difference,” Mr Wallace said.
“That’s pretty much how it worked out for me but I know it wasn’t the same for others on the show – I know they showed things of the others they said wouldn’t be shown, just as they didn’t show some of the really silly things I did on camera.”
Mr Wallace said the show unnecessarily displayed his aunt Michelle in a bad light by showing her “blow up” over the $2.15 he spent of her money on cordial.
“They took that out of context, yes, it was $2.15 but that was from the last $70, besides rent, she was going to have for eight weeks,” Mr Wallace said. “They followed my aunty for a lot longer than they followed me, they even filmed her going to work but none of that got shown.”
Overall, Mr Wallace said he was grateful for the support many had shown him since the show.
“One guy called me up and said I could have his Toyota Corolla. It’s now sitting in my driveway and I just got my Ls. And I’ve had so many job offers from people who saw the show,” he said.
The show even led to him meet- ing his girlfriend. “She started out as a fan and asked me, through my cousin, if I’d like to grab a coffee,” Mr Wallace said. “Coffee turned into dinner, then dinner turned into a movie and now that’s it.”
Mr Wallace said he still couch-hopped between the homes of his mother, aunt and cousin.
After being made a ward of the state at age 5, he was sent to live with his grandmother, away from his mother but near his father, in the rural town of Yenda, which is near Griffith.
“My mum was just a voice on the other end of the phone every six months,” Mr Wallace said.
“But when I turned 18 and I was shown her file, I could understand why she wasn’t able to be a mum to me at the time. I wanted to come back here so I could get to know her and we get along really well now.”
Mr Wallace said he was very angry for a long time about his situation but credits mentors such as Bidwill Uniting Church community minister John Dacey for helping him overcome his demons. Mr Dacey said he was disappointed
Struggle Street was not exactly what he had been told it would be. But he hoped the stories it told would be looked at with compassion.
“Chris could’ve easily fallen into the scenario where he just didn’t have work. He could’ve given up quite easily but he didn’t,” Mr Dacey said.
I know they showed things of the others they said wouldn’t be shown, just as they didn’t show some of the really silly things I did on camera.
– CHRIS WALLACE
Chris Wallace has had a positive reaction after
Struggle Street and (inset) with his family on the show.