Rainbow Territory calls for urgent NT anti-discrimination reforms

aboriginal indigenous flag

LGBTIQ advocacy group Rainbow Territory has called for the Northern Territory government to urgently progress anti-discrimination law reform after recent allegations of racial segregation in Alice Springs.

Last week ABC News reported local hotel Ibis Styles Alice Springs Oasis allegedly instructed employees to direct guests from Aboriginal communities into designated rooms for the same price charged to non-indigenous customers for better accommodation. Accor Hotels said in response they had initiated an investigation into the allegations.

Responding to the claims, Rainbow Territory has called on the NT Government to progress the promised reforms of the Anti-Discrimination Act.

The group provided a submission to the government in January 2018 calling for a representative complaints process be established in the NT

Under current laws, whistleblowers and representatives can’t flag discrimination on someone’s behalf, preventing “systemic” discrimination from being addressed, the group said.

“The recent exposure of alleged racial discrimination in Alice Springs uncovers the high levels of interpersonal and systemic discrimination experienced by Aboriginal people in the Territory,” the group said.

“A representative complaints model is a key part of a workable Anti-Discrimination Act, and a mature NT that addresses systemic discrimination.

“Representative complaints allow for the protections that already exist to be enlivened, rather than be window dressing.

“The case at the Ibis Styles Alice Springs Oasis shows how individuals can be discriminated against in the provision of accommodation services, and in this case, an individual may be powerless to make a complaint against a global hotel chain like Ibis.

“Rather than just relying on individuals complaining to the Anti-Discrimination Commission, a representative complaints model better responds to the systemic nature of discrimination and allows complaints to be brought on behalf of multiple people at once.

“We want the Anti-Discrimination Commission to be able to act on issues where discrimination, victimisation, or vilification can impact a group of people collectively rather than a single individual, the Alice Springs example is a case in point.

“Those who are most vulnerable to discrimination are often those least empowered in society, which reduces the likelihood of them pursuing individual complaints in situations where they have been discriminated against.

“To ensure the complaints model is a robust one, processes should be designed to ensure that the representative body making the complaint truly advocates for the community it claims to represent.”

The territory’s review of anti-discrimination laws commenced in September 2017 with a discussion paper describing an “urgent need for modernisation”.

A spokesperson for Northern Territory Attorney-General Natasha Fyles confirmed to ABC News the review was ongoing.

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