Report: Australian hotel segregates Aboriginal guests
A hotel in Alice Springs, Australia, told staff to give Aboriginal guests specifically allocated, less cared-for rooms, according to an investigation by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
Management at the Ibis Styles Alice Springs Oasis, a chain hotel belonging to the French group Accor, instructed employees to check Aboriginal guests into designated lower standard rooms, an anonymous employee told the broadcaster. The employee said they had witnessed the practice “hundreds” of times, according to the report.
The rooms given to Aboriginal guests were not cleaned to the same standard as other rooms, were furnished with lower-quality and stained bedding, and were not properly maintained.
‘Disappointed and outraged’
The hotel management’s directive came in a June 2018 email, the ABC reported, and referred to Aboriginal guests as from “the communities”, a local term for Indigenous Australians.
“Just to keep everyone in the loop we are now only putting hospital linen into rooms 85 to 90,” the email said.
“These rooms are to be referred to as community rooms and we will try to limit them to just that, those coming from the communities.
“Reception ladies, please use a touch of initiative and allocate accordingly on arrival,” it added.
The ABC sent two reporting teams undercover to the hotel with identical room bookings — one group made up of Aboriginal Australians, the other not.
The Indigenous reporters found their bed linen stained, food refuse on the floor of the bathroom and a previous guest’s clothing still in the wardrobe. They also discovered “broken glass and rubbish in the patio area, dried liquids on the windows and walls, a stale smell in the air and exposed wires around the skirting of the room.”
The other undercover team reported none of the same complaints.
A statement from Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scallion said the reported conduct of the hotel and its employees was “completely unacceptable”. He said he would seek an explanation from Accor and “will also ensure that any action under relevant Racial Discrimination Act provisions are pursued in full.”
The Northern Territories senator added that he was “deeply disappointed and outraged to learn that this sort of conduct is still occurring in Australia in this day and age”.
“Racism and discrimination has no place in our society this makes me sick so disgusting!” tweeted lawmaker Chansey Paech, who is of Aboriginal descent.
Hotel will ‘undertake cultural training’
Accor released a statement saying that since the publication of the ABC report it had “initiated an investigation into the allegations”.
The organization was “extremely saddened and disappointed by this as it completely goes against our values and track record as a company with over 17 years of engagement with our Indigenous community”.
It said that it will immediately undertake cultural training at the Alice Springs hotel.