The manager of the ibis Styles Alice Springs Oasis resort has been replaced as Accor launches an investigation into claims staff at the property discriminated against Indigenous guests.
The property made international headlines last week following an investigation by the ABC’s Background Briefing program, which found employees had been instructed to assign Indigenous guests to lower quality, badly cleaned and maintained “community rooms”.
The room charge was the same per night as for the higher quality rooms assigned to other guests.
The hotel group has since taken decisive action to ensure staff are given “cultural training”, saying the Alice Springs approach runs entirely contrary to Accor’s “values and track record as a company with over 17 years of engagement with our Indigenous community”.
“We have initiated an investigation into the allegations and have taken prompt and decisive action on this incident at the highest level,” a spokesperson said in a statement.
“An internal investigator has been appointed and we will appoint an external investigator to advise on this review. At this time, interim management has been appointed to the hotel while we investigate.”The company statement also said Accor would be issuing a “formal communication to all employees reiterating our anti-discrimination expectations” and would be running “local anti-discrimination training” this week.
“We reinforce our absolute commitment to engaging and supporting the Indigenous community,” it said.
The investigation has lifted the lid on attitudes to race which community leaders say is ingrained within the culture of Alice Springs and the Northern Territory.
Sophie Trevitt, a lawyer with the North Australian Aboriginal Justice Agency, told the ABC that clients told her that the practice of separating Aboriginal guests was happening across the NT.
“It’s effectively a form of segregation within hotels and hostels,” she said, adding that it was common knowledge for many in the Indigenous community of the Northern Territory.
Chansey Paech, the Labor member for the Namatjira seat covering more than 350,000km square, including part of Alice Springs, said the incident showed there were a lot of people who thought this kind of segregation was OK.
“That’s the major issue here – this highlights that there’s still so much work that needs to be done as a community, that needs to be done to address this level of discrimination,” he said.