Dump­ster div­ing Chris­tian

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - INSIDER - NA­TIONAL TV WRITER

So­cialite Chris­tian Wilkins bur­rowed into the dump­ster in search of his din­ner. Scroung­ing through the jumble of squashed, outof-date food, the 22-year-old’s nights of quaffing cham­pagne with his fa­mous fa­ther, To­day show en­ter­tain­ment guru Richard Wilkins, felt des­per­ately far away.

Alone, with no money, he did not even have a mo­bile phone to call one of his many celebrity friends, such as the To­day Show host Karl Ste­fanovic, a man he refers to fondly as “Un­cle Kar­los”.

“You want the fresh stuff,” says Wilkins of his newly ac­quired skill of dump­ster div­ing. “Things that have ex­pired re­cently, stuff that’s in plas­tic or (fruit and veg­eta­bles) that only have su­per­fi­cial bruis­ing. I was even eat­ing car­rots that hadn’t been washed.”

Wilkins spent 10 days sleep­ing rough as part of new SBS doc­u­men­tary Filthy Rich And Fa­mous, which shows priv­i­leged Aus­tralians swap­ping their lives of lux­ury for home­less­ness — a chal­lenge which af­fects more than 100,000 Aus­tralians.

In­stead of strut­ting the cat­walk and danc­ing on couches at Bondi’s Ice­bergs — as he was seen do­ing re­cently with his new best friend Jas­mine Yarbrough, Ste­fanovic’s re­cently ac­quired girl­friend — Wilkins be­came one of Aus­tralia’s home­less.

Stripped of his ID, money and the mo­bile phone he uses to up­date his 6500 fol­low­ers with self­ies of him­self hang­ing with Kim Kar­dashian, Tay­lor Swift and Delta Goodrem, Wilkins slept on Mel­bourne’s streets and in a squat.

On day one, the as­pir­ing ac­tor made a teary SOS call from a pay­phone to his mother and Dickie’s for­mer wife, Michelle Burke.

“I broke down to her and she picked me up and made me re­alise I’d been there for one day and I needed to turn to my mum. She re­minded me there were peo­ple out who didn’t have fam­ily and how much harder that would be be­cause there’s lit­er­ally no one they can turn to.”

Wilkins was joined on the ex­per­i­ment by sim­i­larly priv­i­leged Aus­tralians: self­made mil­lion­aire Tim Guest, Kayla Fenech, daugh­ter of box­ing cham­pion Jeff, rags-to-riches beauty en­tre­pre­neur Jel­laine Dee and third-gen­er­a­tion pub baron Stu Laundy.

Each faced their own strug­gles dur­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence, but for Wilkins the most dif­fi­cult chal­lenge was lone­li­ness.

“The iso­la­tion of the peo­ple who ex­pe­ri­ence home­less­ness ev­ery day is over­whelm­ing,” he says.

“It made me ac­knowl­edge how lucky I am,” he says. “Not just to have gone to a good school and to have a job but to ac­tu­ally have a fam­ily and friends who sup­port me. My par­ents and sib­lings, they just let me be who I am. They love when I go out and wear sparkly pants.

“It’s in­sane how some of us just seem to be lucky, we’re just born into cer­tain fam­i­lies, it’s just pure luck re­ally,” he tells In­sider.

Wilkins re­veals that although sup­port­ive of his par­tic­i­pa­tion, his fa­ther was des­per­ately wor­ried how his son would fare.

“My dad was es­pe­cially ner­vous. He was down in Mel­bourne one day and he was con­tem­plat­ing walk­ing around the streets try­ing to find me,” says Wilkins, who lives with his fa­ther in Cre­morne.

So what was the ma­te­rial item he missed most dur­ing his time sleep­ing rough?

“Chap­stick,” he says with­out hes­i­ta­tion. “I un­der­stand that’s the most ba­sic thing, and peo­ple live out there, but those 10 days I need some Chap­Stick.”

FILTHY RICH AND HOME­LESS, SBS, JUNE 27, 28 AND 29, FROM 8.30PM

Chris­tian Wilkins lived rough on the streets for 10 days.

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