QLD Indigenous woman says she was fired after complaining about racial discrimination

By @chelean on
No room for racism
Protesters raise their fists during a rally organised to show support for the 'Black Lives Matter' movement, following recent police shootings in the US, in central Sydney, Australia, July 16, 2016. Reuters/David Gray

An indigenous woman has claimed she was fired from work after she filed a complaint about racism. Samantha Cooper said her employer, the Centre Against Domestic Abuse (CADA), sacked her two days after she complained of being subjected to racist remarks.

Cooper, who was a case manager at the government-funded domestic violence organisation before she was sacked, filed an official complaint to the Fair Work Commission against CADA for racial discrimination. She had worked for the organisation’s Moreton Bay region in Brisbane since March.

She filed an official complaint on Nov. 27, outlining a list of alleged incidents, Brisbane Times reports. In the short months that she had worked, she apparently experienced a number of racist comments directed at her, including being told she was “quite pretty for an Aboriginal” and being asked if she had ever met a “real” Aboriginal person.

CADA’s reaction, according to the 25-year-old law student, was worrying. The organisation fired her two days after she complained.

“If they’ve got other reasons, I’d welcome that and I’d much prefer that for the community, because it would be horrific to think that raising a formal complaint about racism would result in me being terminated,” she told the publication.

Her employment had been on a “fix term” contract, which was supposed to end in September 2018, according to a letter from CADA’s manager. However, in her termination letter, CADA, a registered charity funded by the Department of Communities, blamed state government reallocating funding.

“Whilst negotiations were ongoing with the funding body, we extended your contract,” it wrote. “We have now been informed that due to funds being made available in the region for another position, the project is no longer required.”

A spokesman for the Department of Child Safety, Youth and Women denied the alleged cut funding to Cooper’s Breaking Down the Barriers program, which was a 12-month project that started in March. A new allocation of $120,000 had even been granted in October for a full-time Indigenous worker starting Jan. 1.

A CADA spokesman, meanwhile, claimed to Fairfax Media that the program was only a six-month project. The organisation even had to extend Cooper’s employment by a month in the hope that the funding would be extended. When an independent investigator had looked into Cooper’s complaints, the spokesman said it was concluded that they were “without substance.” The rep even labelled Cooper’s complaints as “quite disturbing slander.”

Allegedly, Cooper started claiming about racial discrimination when she heard rumours that the funding for her program would be cut. FWC will hear her case on Jan. 24.