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News > World

Australian Sport Venue Turned Away Aboriginal Fans During Indigenous Week Celebration

  • Aboriginals were stopped from entering an Aussie Rules football match during Naidoc last year at Adelaide Oval.

    Aboriginals were stopped from entering an Aussie Rules football match during Naidoc last year at Adelaide Oval. | Photo: Wikicommons

Published 30 March 2019

An ex-worker said she was forced to tell several fans that the tickets were sold out, prompting her to tender her resignation and report the incident to the South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission.

Australia’s Adelaide Oval's box office staff were advised to stop selling tickets to Aboriginal people at a major Naidoc Week sporting event, a former employee disclosed to ABC News.

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The woman, who was employed to McArthur Recruitment, said the supervisor "turned around and told everyone in the box office we'd been told not to sell tickets to any more Aboriginal people."

Ironically, the tickets provided entry to an Aussie Rules football match, last year, during Naidoc- which celebrates the history, culture and achievements of Aboriginal and Torres Straight Islander peoples.

The ex-employee recounted that the instructions were only given after the supervisor spoke to a member of Adelaide Oval security team.

The box office ex-worker said she was forced to tell several fans that the tickets had been sold out, prompting her to reportedly tender her resignation the following day and reporting the incident to the South Australian Equal Opportunity Commission, which was unable to take action since the complaint was not lodged by a victim.

“For a lot of Aboriginal people, it’s just exhausting, having to put up with racism at every turn. And we’re exhausted at having to call it out,” John Paul Janke, co-chair of the national Naidoc committee said adding that it is alarming that no one pointed out the illegality of the supervisor’s instruction.

Adelaide Oval subsequently apologized for the incident, but said that the directions came from the police and had been misunderstood.

"It is extremely disappointing that a supervisor in the ticketing office misinterpreted a message from police and didn't follow established protocols that would have clarified the situation,” Darren Chandler, General Manager of Operations at Adelaide Oval said.

"We are unequivocal in our stance that everyone is welcome at Adelaide Oval and we condemn discrimination in any form. We apologize to anyone affected and have taken steps to ensure this situation doesn't arise again."

Tanya Hosch, Australian Football League’s general manager for inclusion and social policy, told Guardian Australia that the organization only found out about the incident last week.

But a spokeswoman for the South Australia Police told BBC that the “police at no time made any direction to the ticket sales employees about the sale of tickets," explaining that they had only responded to a "request for assistance where some patrons attempting to enter Adelaide Oval, or purchase tickets to enter the ground, were clearly intoxicated.”

A representative of the 50-year-old company stated that the Oval condemns racism, in every form, and was “horrified” by the report but remained adamant that there had been some sort of miscommunication.

“The ticket office staff followed the instructions of police and security and did not sell tickets to anyone for around an hour while the police and security managed the situation,” a spokesperson for McArthur Recruitment insisted, adding that "security returned to the box office after the incident to reiterate their instruction not to sell tickets to a number of people that they pointed out to box office staff."

But Australia’s Indigenous peoples are no strangers to systematic mistreatment and marginalization.

Last month, French multinational hotel company Accor was forced to apologize after staff at their Alice Springs location was found to be segregating Aboriginal guests from non-Aboriginal guests.

An ABC News report uncovered that Aboriginal guests we booked in an inferior section of the Ibis Styles Hotel, where rooms were often dirty and in poorer condition.

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