Neighbours: Sharon Johal joins Shareena Clanton in speaking out about alleged racism on Australian soap

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Isobel Lewis
·2 min read
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Johal in 2019 (Getty Images for NGV)
Johal in 2019 (Getty Images for NGV)

Neighbours star Sharon Johal has become the latest actor to speak out about her experience of racism on set of the Australian soap.

Last week, Aboriginal actor Shareena Clanton opened up about the “multiple racist traumas” she experienced while working on the show, including hearing other actors use the n-word on set, unchallenged.

Clanton claimed that “overt and covert levels of racism were rife”, with another actor Meyne Wyatt also sharing his experiences of racism on set and calling on Neighbours to “do better”.

On Tuesday (13 April), Johal , who played Dipi Rebecchi on the soap until March 2021, added her voice to the mix, sharing a lengthy statement about the "direct, indirect and casual racism” she experienced on set. Like Clanton, she did not identify anyone due to defamation laws.

“On more than one occasion a current cast member (non-POC) directly referred to me as ‘you people’ when speaking in derogatory terms about an altercation they were involved in with an Indian person,” she wrote.

“The same person repeatedly referred to me as ‘the black one’ and/or ‘blackie’ behind my back in the presence of other crew members. I have been told that the same cast member also repeatedly claims that the show only employs ‘Indian actors’ and diverse actors of colour to “fill their diversity quotas” and ‘not because they are any good’.”

Johal said that while she reported these comments to management, no further action was taken.

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She also claimed that another former castmate compared her to a bobble-head toy and mimicked Apu from The Simpsons “with accompanying Indian accent and movement of head in my presence”, not stopping when she asked.

“As a qualified lawyer, I see this very clearly as a human rights issue – an issue that is not exclusive to this specific workplace, but rather endemic to our society as a whole,” she wrote.

Clanton praised Johal for speaking out, commenting on her post: “So it begins... I am with you and so proud of you for speaking up.”

In response to Johal’s allegations, production company Fremantle Media said: “We remain committed to ensuring a respectful and inclusive workplace for all employees on the set of Neighbours and take very seriously any questions about racism or any other form of discrimination.”

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