Image Credit: SMH
The 16 women and children had travelled 300 kilometres from Yuendumu to Alice Springs to train as lifeguards for their community’s new swimming pool.
They checked into the Haven Backpackers resort, but a short time later the manager told them that guests already staying there had complained of being scared.
The group included several young mothers and a three-month-old baby. Most were young leaders, chosen specially for their standing in the Yuendumu community.
The resort manager told Bethany Langdon from the Yuendumu Young Leaders program the group would have to leave.
“The manager came out and told me that we weren’t suitable to stay there,” she told ABC1’s Lateline program.
“They said, because you’re Aboriginal, other tourists were making complaints that they were scared of us.
“I felt like I wanted to cry, because it made me feel like I wasn’t an Australian.”
The hostel’s excuse? They cater primarily for international tourists, which the Yuendumu women were not, therefore they were inappropriate guests. Somehow I very much doubt that if my white family turned up there we’d be turned away because we were Australian rather than foreign tourists.
Now this paragraph is mostly for the search engines (H.A.T. has a high authority ranking, so I’m using it): ethical tourists please avoid the Haven Backpacker Resort on Larapinta Drive, Alice Springs: it is a racist establishment, please don’t support it by staying there.
Reader: if you have a blog, why not post something similar to the above on your site? If enough other bloggers link to the ABC story, it will stay high in the search engine rankings even after the news cycle moves on, which is the least that the Haven Hostel deserves. I also hope that the Yuendumu women sue them hard.
I’m also really happy, in retrospect, that it took me absolutely ages to find their corporate website even though they have taken out spots in all the hostel directories: someone doesn’t know how to do SEO. I’m not posting a link to it, because that will make it easier for other people to find. If you find their corporate website, please don’t link to it either.
Update: according to the SMH the Haven Backpacker Resort is owned by one of the largest NT touring companies, Adventure Tours Australia, which purports to offer tourists “the unique scenery, wildlife and Aboriginal culture of each area”. They apparently can’t be bothered to train their employees to treat Aboriginal people who aren’t performing for tourists decently, though.
Congratulations, Adventure Tours Australia: you too are now added to the keywords.
Further Update (20/03/08) for the benefit of some people in the comments who are treating this as some unfounded claim by the Yuendumu party, and furthermore want to justify pre-judging this group based on stereotypes of aboriginal behaviour, here are the facts that even Haven Backpackers Resort does not dispute:
The Royal Lifesaving Society booked the accommodation and transport for the Yuendumu trainee party, and made sure that they got to the Haven Resort. Less than an hour later they had to come and get the trainee party and find them alternate accommodation. Not even Haven claims that the trainee party actually did or said anything offensive in that half hour or so.
Pre-judging people based on stereotypes is the essence of bigotry. If you want to try and justify pre-judging all aboriginal Australians based on the known bad behaviour of some aboriginal Australians, presenting some risk analysis rationale, go right ahead – but don’t pretend that your rationalisations are not attempting to justify bigoted racism.