Lessons from apology to Joel Wilkinson for blackface incident


joel wilkinson gold coast suns
7News/Northern Bullants Football Club Facebook

Miles Heffernan says the recent apology from the AFL and Gold Coast Suns to former player Joel Wilkinson illustrates that racial discrimination remains a workplace issue.  Wilkinson previously filed a complaint in the Human Rights Commission over racism. His complaint arose from a 2013 Wacky Wednesday event when two of Wilkinson’s teammates dressed in blackface.

Discrimination in the workplace is both wrong and illegal but it still happens. And all too often.

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Discrimination involves a person receiving less favourable treatment because of a particular attribute compared to someone who does not possess that same attribute. Various federal and state legislation protects Australians from discrimination. However, the law differs slightly from state to state, so seek professional advice if you believe you have experienced discrimination.

The law also protects Australians from discrimination because of other attributes.

They include:

  • race
  • sex or gender
  • sexuality or sexual orientation
  • colour
  • national extraction or social origin
  • religion
  • age (young or old)
  • physical or mental impairment or disability
  • martial or parental status
  • pregnancy
  • breastfeeding
  • political opinion
  • trade union activity

Unlawful discrimination can happen at work, school, university, or when you are seeking accommodation like renting a house or motel room.

It can also happen when you access goods and services.

For example, buying things from a shop, going to a café or to the movies or a medical centre – it can even happen when you hire tradespeople.

Workplace discrimination can happen when you are employed, or when you are doing work experience, or even when you apply for a job.

It also applies to contractors and volunteers.

What to do

No one should endure unlawful discrimination. Joel Wilkinson deserved, and everyone deserves, equal treatment in a safe workplace free from discrimination. It’s great that the Gold Coast Suns and AFL finally apologised. But it’s better yet if people are not subjected to racial or other discrimination in their workplace.

If you believe that you have been subjected to unlawful discrimination, you need to take immediate steps to try and have the behaviour stopped.

You can also take legal action to secure compensation for any shock or distress you suffered as a result of the discrimination.

If you’re getting screwed at work, don’t take it lying down. Ring 1800FORKED (1800367533) today and give bad bosses the finger.

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