Racial Segregation in Alice Springs is not a trait of just one Major Hotel Chain. The problem is the Racism within the community of Alice Springs itself that is continuously denied, ignored, deliberately unnoticed and justified by law to pacify any sort of community or group response.
The recent whistleblower who came forward and exposed a top Australian Hotel Chain in Alice Springs for their racial segregation of Aboriginal people is a popular headline right now.
Findings found that Aboriginal people were being segregated in Hotel rooms of terrible standards and provided dirty linen, while other guests were being accommodated in regular clean standard Hotel rooms for the same price.
My cousin and her partner (Both Indigenous) live and work out at Uluru resort. Every time they come into Alice they stay at this same Hotel. My cousin has just asked to stay at my place the next time she comes in instead of the Hotel, as she has heard about what has been happening in the news. She told me that she and her partner both picked up ringworms the last time they stayed there. She now realizes that they were placed in these same unclean rooms because of their Identity. She is appalled, especially herself being a worker for the Uluru Resort Hotel Chain.
This is all nothing new in Alice Springs, it would be bizarre for any local resident to assume it was a rare occurrence. Not many locals speak up about these incidents as simple as that. Many new residents are also fed such profound justifications for racism in Alice Springs by local community residents, that they accept these justifications as an easy way to avoid the issue and go about their everyday life.
No Reform to the Anti-Discrimination Act
There has still been no reform to the Anti-Discrimination Act which prevents anyone but the victim of the discrimination from making a formal complaint. Under ongoing review since 2017, it seems many do not want to lose this tool of power and control that embeds acceptable justifications for racism that help pacify a community from responding. One that also imbues an acceptable silence on racism as a way of life for the community of Alice Springs.
Aboriginal people, it seems just have to accept Racism as part of life in Alice Springs. Because of language, literacy and education barriers, many Aboriginal people who face Racism find it hard or simply do not even bother to seek legal address. The Anti-Discrimination act prevents many non-aboriginal locals who are educated on Aboriginal issues and who many times wish to intervene or speak up. Local residents who are also sick of seeing this racism and treatment of other human beings persist in 2019.
The problem is the Alice Springs local residents in the workplace and their influence on
“Every year in Alice Springs there is on and off tourist season, local businesses rely on local money for support, that includes Aboriginal money”
I am an Aboriginal resident of Alice Springs. I have worked for many of the Hotel Chains over my 20 years in tourism and hospitality. Almost 20 years ago I lived and worked at a Hotel in which I was given permanent accommodation as part of our contract. During my time at the Hotel, I was told by an admin staff member that all resort admin had been told to put all Aboriginal people that paid for a room only in one area of the Hotel. The rooms were not cleaned properly etc just like this recent case.
About 6 years ago I was looking for work and applied to do some work cleaning at a popular Hotel. The day I got there, one of the staff showing me around told me how the certain rooms we were walking past was where they put the Aboriginal people that rented rooms. I did not return to the job after that day, however, this was also another Major Hotel that sits right in the Centre of Alice Springs. I have heard this is still going on there today.
Having worked in Tourism, Hospitality, and retail, also holding management roles and many times more than one job, I understand the Industry very well. Over the past 9 years, the number of tourists visiting Alice Springs has dropped drastically leaving many local businesses struggling. This has much to do with the plane, train routes and changes that now has many tourists detouring Alice Springs and heading straight to Uluru for their holidays. In the past, many would have to come through Alice Springs to get to Uluru. The Train Service has also taken away it’s backpacker and discount travel seated carriages from Adelaide to Darwin and vice-versa. Tourists that cannot afford Gold class travel on the Train now choose to fly as it the cheaper option. Local businesses relies on locals when it is off tourist season.
Right now it is still off Tourist season in Alice Springs. A time where hotels such as the one involved invite locals to come down have lunch, use their pool or stay overnight as they need the business. The Hotel I was working at and residing almost 20 years ago also did this. (I was the Bar/Restaurant Manager) Many Hotels in Alice Springs still do the same today, sometimes Aboriginal people are allowed because they need the money, other times they are not.
When the tourist season starts. Aboriginal people are regularly refused accommodation or told there is none available even if there are one or two rooms vacant. As a local, I honestly do not see how anyone else in this town does not know or would be surprised this is happening? I certainly do not think I been living an illusion for 20 years.
Pure racism’: Aborigines chucked out after checking in (SMH 2008) https://www.smh.com.au/national/pure-racism-aborigines-chucked-out-after-checking-in-20080312-gds4p8.html
Alice Springs brings in hundreds of surrounding local community visitors regularly.
The Alice Springs hospital is the Major hospital in the center. Even the Royal Flying Doctor covers more area in the center than anywhere else in Australia. I once worked there doing tours. The Royal Flying Doctor Service covers a 500 km radius around Alice Springs and over 30,000 remote Australians. (You could fit the whole of England inside that area) There are more people that live in these surrounding areas than who actually live in Alice Springs itself. Many people from communities look for accommodation to be close to family in the hospital when they come in from remote areas. The Hotel involved in this incident happens to be located straight across the road from the Alice Springs Hospital, so how many Aboriginal requests for rooms would they be getting and just how much Aboriginal money is going into all surrounding Hotels? Again this is not the only Hotel Chain in Alice Springs doing the segregation.
This accepted racism has been going on for decades. Most local politicians act all surprised and appalled by the findings. like it is just a one-off and rare occurrence that they have never heard about before. My guess is they walk around with their eyes closed and ears blocked regularly?
This is not a problem caused by one certain hotel chain, this is an ALICE SPRINGS problem many locals and Politicians refuse to face. This way of life has been embedded within the community and the law keeps it stuck to our feet like bubble gum every day we walk around Alice Springs. The Locals who are employed to run these Hotels create racial segregation and influence the minds of those who come to work here from elsewhere.
Writer Chris Raja wrote for ABC about his experience living in Alice Springs, in his article, he states:
There were few occasions when society mixed. Mostly people live in segregated areas. If you think I’m exaggerating, try approaching a real estate agent as I did with my Indigenous male friend and ask to inspect houses for rent. In one example, on seeing the client, the real estate agent immediately claimed to not have keys to the house. In Alice Springs, boundaries are rarely crossed.
This place is a microcosm of Australia. It is polarised but gradually even I turned a blind eye to the segregation. After 10 years in Alice Springs, you stop seeing. You stop noticing that the big fish in the little pond syndrome is a dynamic that exists here, and one can become immune to how the rest of the world is seeing things, which can be markedly different.
Are Chris, myself and many other local residents including the Aboriginal community really living in some illusion, making up stories as we go along? Or have I myself been half asleep or daydreaming for 20 years? The many tourists who have visited Alice Springs over the years have also spoken about how their trip and memory of Australia was tarnished or ruined by the racism they witnessed while visiting Alice Springs.
Tourist reviews of Racism by local Businesses and Tours in Alice Springs
“No issue with the quad bikes or the adventure of hooning around on the station. that was actually quite fun. But Frosty picked us up and started chatting about the history of the area. He said that if “the Aboriginals” who live in a community near the station ever kill any cattle (as may have happened at times in the past), the family that runs the station will go out and shoot them. we said that was highly inappropriate and offensive and he laughed it off as a joke. Given there were massacres of Aboriginal people in and around Alice Springs as late as 1928, this is highly inappropriate. Not to mention THAT UNDOOLYA STATION IS ABORIGINAL LAND and the family that runs it only has a pastoral lease over it. Very inappropriate.
Went to have lunch at this tavern and was treated like a second class citizen. Waited patiently in line to order my lunch. When it was my turn, the barman ignored me and took an order from a bloke who just walked up to the counter. After taking his order he then walks away to another customer down the bar and took her order. It was a humiliating experience and I spoke quite loudly and said, excuse me mate but I was first in line but again he couldn’t bother to acknowledge me. Two blokes having a drink next to me was shocked too and said that’s bad service. I guess if you are an Asian ( Chinese) don’t expect to be treated equally. It’s a white men pub. STAY CLEAR from this RACIST PUB!!!!!
I would give a no star, unfortunately, there’s none.
Beautiful adventure ruined by an unforgettable racist tour guidehttps://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowUserReviews-g255063-d3575357-r411333418-Wayoutback_Australian_Safaris_Day_Tours-Alice_Springs_Red_Centre_Northern_Territ.html
More Local and current repsonses…
The killing of Aboriginal man, Kwementyaye Ryder https://www.solidarity.net.au/aboriginal/racism-whitewashed-in-alice-springs/
Barb Shaw on CAAMA “A powerful message to the nation about racism …and how it continues to impact on her people”http://caama.com.au/news/2019/we-need-to-do-something-today-to-end-racism-and-discrimination-barb-shaw