Hotel workers were allegedly told to place Aboriginal guests in substandard rooms
Paris-based hotel group Accor has launched an investigation into the alleged segregation of Aboriginal guests at one of its hotels in Australia.
The company said it received reports that management at Ibis Styles Hotel in Alice Springs in the Northern Territory instructed staff to direct Aboriginal guests into six designated rooms. The accommodations were described as being of lower quality compared to most other rooms in the hotel but were still similarly priced.
“[We] were made aware of the matter ... and are taking prompt and decisive action on this incident at the highest level,” Accor told the BBC.
“We are extremely saddened and disappointed as it completely goes against our values.” The hotel chain added that it had a long history of engaging with indigenous communities in Australia.
A staff member at the Ibis Styles Hotel, who asked not to be identified, told ABC News that segregation had occurred multiple times. “It was pretty much standard,” the hotel worker said.
In June 2018, hotel management reportedly sent out an email telling staff to racially profile incoming guests. Workers were told to use only hospital linen for rooms 85 to 90 (referred to as ‘community rooms’), where Aboriginal guests would be directed.
Reception staff were also instructed to “use a touch of initiative and allocate accordingly on arrival.” Employees should “keep everyone in the loop” regarding these guidelines, the email purportedly said.
Discrimination at the Ibis Styles, however, was not limited to Aboriginal people, according to the whistleblower.
“You’re looking at people who were notable or who were doing charity work or anything like that who, just because they appeared Aboriginal, were being given worse rooms that you wouldn’t put anyone else into at all,” the hotel worker said.
In its own investigation, ABC News discovered discrepancies in the quality of rooms for Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal guests. Those for Aboriginal guests reportedly had dirty floors and leftover items possibly from previous occupants, while other rooms had none of these issues. The substandard rooms were still priced at $129.
Indigenous Affairs Minister Nigel Scullion vowed to look into the matter.
“I’ll be ensuring that’s acted on, because that sort of behaviour from Australian businesses is completely unacceptable,” Scullion said.
“It’s very difficult to know that you are a victim if you weren’t aware that you’d been put in a room on the basis of your ethnicity because you wouldn’t know that.”
Scullion suggested the actions of the Ibis Styles management could be considered a breach of anti-discrimination laws.