Past issues

Equal Opportunity Commissioner's e-bulletin August 2017

by EOC | Sep 05, 2017

August 2017

Race Commissioner in WA


Race Discrimination Commissioner Dr Tim Soutphommasane, participated in a meeting of the Equal Opportunity Commission’s New and Emerging Communities Reference Group meeting earlier last month.

The group was set up by the Commission in 2013 to discuss issues which impact on people from ethnic minority communities, with special focus on new arrivals.

It comprises 12 members from government and non-government organisations which represent the interests of new and emerging communities in Western Australia.

Dr Soutphommasane discussed topics of interest with the group, such as service providers’ reluctance to engage language interpreters and proposed changes to the Australian citizenship test, which included more stringent testing for English language competency.

Equal Opportunity Commission, Commission Services Manager Diana MacTiernan said the Race Discrimination Commissioner advised the group to not stay silent and to give constant feedback to service providers not providing an adequate service to the community.

“It was wonderful to have Dr Soutphommasane with the group to provide feedback on what was happening at a national level with ethnic minority communities,” she said.

She said he spoke about the latest findings from the Lowy Institute survey which showed a drop in support for migration.

“Certainly a drop in support for migration is of some concern to the New and Emerging Communities Reference Group, so it was a valuable opportunity to discuss some of those concerns with the Race Discrimination Commissioner,” she said.


Airbnb host pays US$5K for race discrimination

An Airbnb host based in California has been fined $US5,000 for abruptly cancelling on a guest because she was ‘Asian’.

Host, Tami Barker, told her guest Dyne Suh in a text message: “I wouldn’t rent to u if u were the last person on earth (sic).”

“One word says it all. Asian,” Ms Barker said.

As part of her punishment Ms Barker has agreed to participate in a course on Asian-American Studies, issue a personal apology to Ms Suh and volunteer at a civil rights organisation.

She has also been banned from hosting her property on Airbnb.

Discrimination in California under civil rights laws comes with a $US4,000 minimum fine.

Here in Western Australia, race discrimination is also unlawful in the area of goods and services and accommodation.

This may include long term rental properties and short-term rental properties like those on Airbnb.

“Race discrimination in the private rental sector certainly still occurs in Western Australia.

“However, most complaints of this nature are conciliated at the Commission before reaching the State Administrative Tribunal (Tribunal) where compensation can be ordered,” Acting Equal Opportunity Commissioner Dr John Byrne said.

In 2010 the Tribunal ordered property owner Anna Chan to pay a total sum of $3,000 to Violet Pickett and her son Trevor Pickett after it found Ms Chan had lied about the availability of her property because she did not want to rent it to Aboriginal people.

“The Tribunal ordered Ms Chan to pay Ms Pickett and her son as compensation for the hurt and humiliation they suffered due to Ms Chan’s discrimination,” Dr Byrne said.

He said discrimination was not only hurtful to those being discriminated against, it was also bad business for those doing the discriminating. 

“In the case of the Airbnb host, the costs of discrimination may be greater than the $US5,000 fine as her ban from Airbnb means she can longer rent her property through the popular platform,” he said. 

Read more about the Airbnb case here.


Outreach in the Kimberley

The Commission’s Community Education Team was in the regions again this month with two of our trainers conducting education sessions in Broome and Derby from 19 July to 23 July.

Community Education and Training Officers Mike Harte and Stephen Goodall held Rights Based education meetings with the Kimberly Aboriginal Medical Service, Kimberley Disability Advocacy Service in Broome and West Kimberley Regional Prison.

They also conducted Equal Opportunity Essentials for Managers and Contact/Grievance Officer training sessions at North Regional TAFE.

Mike said all sessions were well attended and with the use of video conferencing in two of the TAFE sessions employees who were not able to travel to Broome were still able to participate.

“The Kimberley is a still a large area with parts that are difficult to access, so the use of video conferencing means we can overcome the challenges of distance in rural and remote areas,” he said.

Commission Services Manager Diana MacTiernan said over the course of 2017 the Community Education team had provided outreach to five regional areas across the state including the South West, Great Southern, Pilbara, Indian Ocean Territories and the Kimberley.

“The Community Education Team is proud of what it has been able to achieve this year with regional training and outreach.

“Western Australia is such a large state, so we have to work extra hard to maintain those important connections in regional communities,” she said.


Substantive Equality Forum for Public Sector and NGOs

The Equal Opportunity Commission is holding an interactive forum on how to better understand clients’ needs through effective consultation on 22 August at the Perth Hospitality Academy, Wellington Fair East Perth.

The forum will start at 2.00pm and finish at 4pm and will involve presentations from People With Disability Australia and Council of the Ageing about their experiences of consultation with government agencies.

Following the presentations, participants will be put in groups to discuss best practice consultation methods, including how to engage the client group they wish to consult.

If you wish to be a part of the forum, please contact Commission Services Manager Diana MacTiernan on 9216 3900 or by email at


What's coming up

The Commission’s Training Calendar from July to December 2017 is now available. You can register for all Commission courses on the Community Education page

August 9          Sexual Harassment – Know where the line is

August 16        Contact Officer Role

August 22        Substantive Equality Forum for public sector agencies and not for profit organisations.

August 29        Equal Opportunity Essentials for Managers and Supervisors

Please contact us on 9216 3900 if you are interested in organisation specific training or for a rights based session for your clients or community members.