Question: Institutional Racism in SAPOL

In Parliament, Questions

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS (15:02): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before addressing a question on the topic of institutional racism to the Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and the Minister for Public Sector.

Leave granted.

The Hon. T.A. FRANKS: This week is NAIDOC Week. We celebrate and recognise the history, culture and achievement of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, but unfortunately we still have a long way to go. I note that SAPOL have a target by 2030, under their Diversity and Inclusion Strategy, to have Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people make up at least 3 per cent of their workforce. At present, however, they only make up 1.35 per cent of the SAPOL workplace. There is also a current recruitment drive for SAPOL.

Earlier this week, my office was contacted by a constituent who had been interested in applying for a position with SAPOL. This person is currently a government employee—in fact, they work for the MFS—and they passed all the necessary tests. I note however that, after they were shortlisted and passed all those relevant tests, they were then rung and told that their application for state police clearance could not be processed because their mother’s maiden name and date of birth are not known to them. The reason for this is that their mother is a stolen generations person. My questions to the minister are:

1. Is this acceptable?

2. What actions will the Malinauskas Labor government take to address this institutional racism either through the Premier’s task force or elsewhere?

3. Will the minister undertake to commit to an audit that this institutional racism is not endemic across other public sector agencies?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Attorney-General, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs, Minister for Industrial Relations and Public Sector) (15:04): I thank the member for her question, and it is a very important one, particularly in NAIDOC Week this week. On the circumstances that the member has described, I am concerned that someone could, on the circumstances the member has described, be disadvantaged because their parent was stolen.

As in decades gone by, many, many Aboriginal children were stolen, without their consent, without their family’s consent. I certainly will be asking for a full briefing on this particular matter. I might talk to the honourable member later to get details, which appropriately are not shared publicly, so I can make sure this is fully followed up. I will look at any other areas in the public sector that this might also affect.

I know over the last couple of decades that I have been involved in politics and Aboriginal affairs, this comes up in a number of areas—Aboriginal people trying to apply for passports because they have won an arts or a peace prize and want to go overseas but, through no fault of their own, as members of the stolen generation or born at a time when dates of birth weren’t recorded, have had difficulties. In this day and age, I don’t think that is good enough, and I certainly will follow it up.