28 October 2014


28 October 2014

Coolgardie Hotel Racial Discrimination Claims Settled

Last week the Aboriginal Legal Service of WA (ALSWA) settled racial discrimination claims on behalf of three of its clients in the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) against Coolgardie publican Ms Deborah Ovens and The Denver City Hotel.

In March of this year Ms Ovens displayed a sign saying that service would be refused to Indigenous people until her iphone was returned. ALSWA took instructions from Ms Josie Adams, Mr Michael Adams and Ms Tiffany Hunter, after they were refused service by Ms Ovens on the basis that they were Aboriginal.

“I am pleased for our clients that this matter has been resolved and it highlights that racial discrimination is unacceptable and that it’s important for people to speak out if they feel they have been discriminated against” said ALSWA CEO Dennis Eggington.

After 7 months of negotiations, ALSWA settled these claims through the AHRC’s conciliation process, without having to go to the Federal Court. “On behalf of our clients, ALSWA obtained confidential settlement amounts from Ms Ovens and the Hotel, as well as personal written apologies from Ms Ovens” said Mr. Eggington.

In her letters of apology to ALSWA’s clients, Ms Ovens stated as follows:

“I understand and acknowledge the distress you experienced due to the events which gave rise to your complaint. I am personally very sorry that these events occurred.”

“Being discriminated against because of the colour of your skin is something you can never fully understand, unless you have experienced it first hand. Sadly, for many Aboriginal people it occurs far too frequently and hopefully cases and results such as this will stand as a strong reminder that if you do racially discriminate against others, then there will be consequence” said Mr. Eggington.

In response to the settlement, ALSWA client Michael Adams stated that he is “glad it’s finally going to be over” and that he and his mother Josie “hope she learned her lesson.” Tiffany Hunter says that she is “glad that something has been done.” While, Josie Adams states: “[I] still haven’t been back to the pub and I won’t go back so long as she’s there.”

Please Note: No further comments will be made by ALSWA’s clients in this matter.