An Alice Springs hotel has allegedly been segregating Indigenous guests into substandard rooms and charging the same prices as standard rooms, it has been revealed.
The ABC’s Background Briefing was tipped off by an anonymous whistleblower employed at the Ibis Styles Alice Springs Oasis hotel.
The source told the ABC an email was sent in June last year telling staff to allocate those “coming from the communities” to rooms 85-90 which were tobe equipped with hospital linen only.
When the ABC conducted their own investigation to confirm the allegations, they found that room 86, allocated to the Indigenous group, was of considerably poorer quality.
The room was found still dirty with rubbish and broken glass lying around; it contained previous guests’ clothing and there were even chicken bones on the bathroom floor.
For the non-Indigenous group allocated room 48, the room was nowhere near as poorly kept. It was reportedly in a better location, much cleaner and smelt better.
Minister for Indigenous Affairs Nigel Scullion said he is “deeply disappointed and outraged” to hear about this “completely unacceptable” situation.
“I will not only seek an urgent explanation from the company but will also ensure that any action under relevant Racial Discrimination Act provisions are pursued in full,” Mr Scullion said.
Accor Hotels, operator of Ibis Styles, have since opened an investigation into the incident.
General Manager of Indigenous Programs and Community Investment Marc Bennie said Accor has taken “prompt and decisive action” and has appointed interim management to the hotel for the investigation’s duration.
“An internal investigator has been appointed and we will appoint an external investigator to advise on this review,” Mr Bennie said.
Bennie said all hotel staff members will also be undertaking local anti-discrimination training to reinforce the company’s “ongoing expectation to treat others with dignity and respect.”
“We reinforce our absolute commitment to engaging and supporting the Indigenous community,” Mr Bennie said.
By Hannah Cross