The State Government has allocated $1.8million to stamp out systemic racism within the public sector.
Attorney General Jim McGinty said the money would fund a new unit at the Equal Opportunity Commission to eliminate racial discrimination in the provision of services by Government departments.
“What we are targeting is racism that is embedded in the policies and practices of State Government organisations rather than the malicious, intentional racism of individuals,” Mr McGinty said.
“This form of racism is often unintentional but can have a detrimental effect on people from ethnic and minority groups and prevent them from accessing services or receiving a fair go.
“Everybody in Western Australia deserves to be treated equally, especially when dealing with a Government department.”
The Attorney General said WA continued to have the highest proportion of people born overseas of all States and Territories, with almost half a million Western Australians, or more than a quarter of the State’s population, born overseas.
“People born in more than 200 different countries live, work and study in Western Australia and collectively, Western Australians speak 170 different languages and practice more than 100 religious faiths,” he said.
Mr McGinty said the public sector was a major service provider but there were currently systems and procedures in place that unfairly - albeit unwittingly - discriminated against people from particular indigenous and ethnic backgrounds.
He cited a hypothetical example in one Government department, where a software package used to determine a person’s requirements produced the absurd result that an Aboriginal person was at greater risk of becoming an illegal immigrant than a non-Aboriginal person.
The Attorney General said there was also an ad-hoc approach within Government to help employees deal with people from different cultural backgrounds.
“Many departments provide cultural awareness training to its staff by other staff who come from diverse cultural backgrounds,” he said.
“While this is well-meaning, it does not follow that just because someone has a particular ethnic background he or she will have the necessary skills to train others on race-related issues.”
Mr McGinty said the Equal Opportunity Commission would ensure Government departments provided proper cultural training to staff and eliminated discriminatory practices and procedures.
“A good example of how this is done is in our hospitals, where patient menus cater for people from a variety of ethnic and religious backgrounds,” he said.
“So as well as the standard and vegetarian options, patients can order Halal, Kosher or Bush Tucker for their daily meals.
“It is about recognising that WA is made up of people from a variety of backgrounds and, as a government, we must ensure that the services provided by the public sector meet the needs of all of our community.”
Minister's office: 9220 5000