Fury at ‘ mon­key’ memo

Hous­ing staff say train­ing pa­per racist

Townsville Bulletin - - NEWS - CHRIS MCMA­HON EX­CLU­SIVE chris. mcma­hon@ news. com. au

TOWNSVILLE Depart­ment of Hous­ing staff have com­plained af­ter be­ing sent train­ing ma­te­rial that they say char­ac­terised pub­lic hous­ing ten­ants as mon­keys.

The train­ing mo­d­ule, en­ti­tled “Mon­key Man­age­ment”, de­picts mon­keys work­ing in an of­fice with mes­sag­ing such as “Mon­keys should be fed or shot, but never starved” and “Keep the mon­key pop­u­la­tion be­low the num­ber you have time to feed”.

Sources told the Bulletin case work­ers were of­fended by the “highly racist” ma­te­rial, with many be­liev­ing it was an in­sen­si­tive at­tack on in­dige­nous staff and pub­lic hous­ing ten­ants.

It’s un­der­stood the mo­d­ule was dis­trib­uted by a hu­man re­sources of­fi­cer to staff as far north as Cairns and out to Mount Isa.

The depart­ment apol­o­gised to staff who re­ceived the email af­ter sev­eral in­dige­nous staff com­plained to ma n a g e m e n t and the To­gether Union.

A spokesman said the doc­u­ment was not pro­duced by the depart­ment but staff who sent it had been “coun­selled”.

“It is not a part of the depart­ment’s suite of lead­er­ship of­fer­ings,” the spokesman said.

“Staff mem­bers who dis­trib- uted the ma­te­rial have been coun­selled about its in­ap­pro­pri­ate­ness.

“The depart­ment apol­o­gises to any­one who was of­fended by the ma­te­rial and this is be­ing com­mu­ni­cated to staff.”

Hous­ing and Pub­lic Works Min­is­ter Mick de Brenni said staff were jus­ti­fi­ably up­set.

“It shouldn’t be a sur­prise that Aus­tralians liv­ing in 2017 may find this ma­te­rial in­sen­si­tive,” he said.

“I can only imag­ine how I would feel if I was a staff mem- ber who had this just ran­domly turn up in their email in­box.

“I know that I wouldn’t feel that great turn­ing up to work the next day.

“I think our Aboriginal and Tor­res Strait Is­lan­der col­leagues have ev­ery right to feel let down by this.”

Mr de Brenni con­firmed man­agers would be coun­selled.

“The Depart­ment of Hous­ing and Pub­lic Works has a won­der­fully di­verse work­force across the state and es­pe­cially in the North,” he said.

“Peo­ple should be work­ing to­gether.”

To­gether Union Townsville or­gan­iser Norm Ja­cob­sen said: “It’s very dis­ap­point­ing and we’re very of­fended by the in­for­ma­tion.”

Shadow Hous­ing Min­is­ter Steve Ben­nett said the ma­te­rial was de­mean­ing.

“I can com­pletely un­der­stand why hard­work­ing Hous­ing Depart­ment em­ploy­ees in North Queens­land think this train­ing ma­te­rial is in­ap­pro­pri­ate and de­mean­ing,” he said.

“Train­ing pro­grams should be in­spir­ing and up­lift­ing, not deroga­tory.”

Mick de Brenni.

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