Group removed from hostel for being Aboriginal
A day after posting about ‘white flight’ in Australian schools, I read that a group of Aborigines from Yuendumu were asked to leave an Alice Springs hostel because they were “scaring” the other guests, most of whom appear to be foreign backpackers. Most of the criticism has been directed at the hostel management for asking the group to leave, and rightly so. However, if it is indeed true that this group of people was removed after complaints from other guests, it says something about the hypocrisy of international tourism. Most of the backpacker staying a the hostel would almost certainly have come to Alice Springs in order to, at least in part, have some sort of experience of ‘traditional Aboriginal culture’. A group of actual Aboriginal people staying at the same hostel, though, is enough to send people running to the reception to make a complaint.
‘Pure racism’: Aborigines chucked out
March 11, 2008 – 8:22AM
I felt like I wanted to cry because it made me feel like I wasn’t an Australian, like I wasn’t wanted there.
The Royal Life Saving Society Australia has accused an Alice Springs backpackers’ hostel of racism after it kicked out a group of indigenous guests.
The Aborigines from a remote community taking lifesaving classes in the central Australian town were allegedly asked to leave the Haven Hostel after checking in because of complaints by other guests, ABC Television reported last night.
The hostel’s management later said the mostly young leaders’ program members from Yuendumu were not allowed to stay because the hostel catered specifically for international backpacking tourists.
But society chief executive Rob Bradley said the hostel was guilty of “pure racism”.
“It was a very feeble excuse about a complaint having been made but looking into that, there was no compliant, there was no reason, it was just pure racism,” Mr Bradley told ABC Television.
“(There’s) total shock and dismay that something like this can happen in Australia today.
“It was just an absolute disgrace.”
The group of mostly women were taking the classes in preparation for the opening of a swimming pool in Yuendumu, located about 300km north-west of Alice Springs.
“They said that it was because of the colour of our skin and they didn’t like us,” group member Bethany Langdon said of the hostel management.
Fellow member Sharelle Young said: “They should apologise to us face-to-face and just say sorry.”
Ms Langdon and other members of her remote community are reportedly considering legal action against the Alice Springs hostel’s management following their weekend ejection.
“When we booked in, the manager, she gave us the keys to the rooms and we went and put our stuff in the rooms.
“We all went outside and the manager came out and told me that we weren’t suitable to stay there,” Ms Langdon told ABC Radio today.
“They said (it was) because we were Aboriginal. Other customers were making complaints that they were scared of us.
“I felt like I wanted to cry because it made me feel like I wasn’t an Australian, like I wasn’t wanted there.”
Mr Bradley said the incident soured the occasion for the Yuendumu community.
“We have worked over a long period of time to build the partnerships, to build the trust with 11 indigenous communities around the NT,” he told ABC Radio.
“This is a big stumbling block. I hope it doesn’t put people off.”
The territory’s anti-discrimination commissioner, Tony Fitzgerald, said the women could have a strong case.
“If the story is true, it’s disgraceful but it is not the only story exactly like this that we have heard anecdotally at the commission,” he said.
“The challenge for us is to convince people who do suffer this sort of unfair treatment to make a complaint so that we can investigate it and follow it through.”
The Haven Hostel released a statement saying: “Haven Hostel is a backpackers’ hostel catering for international backpacking tourists, which the group was not.
“So (alternative) accommodation was sought and arranged with their consultation, on their behalf. We also offered to pay for that night’s accommodation.”
The group found another place to stay in Alice Springs to complete the training, the report said.