Australia Post's chief executive has responded to the furore surrounding a "racist" sign photographed in a store earlier this month, apologising for the offence caused and revealing the store's staff have been made to revisit training on diversity.
Paul Graham called the wording of the sign – which read; "We unfortunately CAN NOT take INDIAN photos" – "totally unacceptable" and said the clumsy wording of the sign was a "regretful" situation.
Mr Graham was called to face the Senate Environment and Communications Legislation Committee on Tuesday morning where he was grilled over the sign at Rundle Mall in Adelaide.
He stressed there was no ill-intent from staff but admitted the wording was "very poor". It was removed as soon as management became aware of the issue.
Australia Post CEO accused of defending sign
Yet Senator Sarah Henderson was unconvinced by Mr Graham's claims, saying the sign "looked like a highly-offensive and racist sign and that's how it was interpreted".
"I'm amazed that you would defend it," she later added.
Mr Graham said he was not defending the sign and explained staff had intended to inform customers they would not be able to produce photos for applications for Indian passports as there were "difficulties meeting the standards" required by the Indian Embassy.
“We’ve spoken to our team members at that particular outlet to help them understand how that sign was perceived by some members of the public,” he said, adding they were shocked at the reaction it had received.
He said lighting at the store had now been improved to allow the AusPost shop to produce photos that meet the requirements of the Indian Embassy. All stores across the country will now be assessed to see if they also meet the requirements.
Mr Graham said staff across the country had been spoken to about appropriate signage and reinforced training surrounding the postal service's diversity programs.
"We are one of the most diverse and inclusive organisations in Australia ... and I can tell you that no one was more upset than Australia Post in relation any hurt this sign may have caused."
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