'Encouraging racism': Outrage over 'disgraceful' job ad

Brooke Rolfe
News Reporter

A healthcare service provider has come under fire for a job advertisement requesting “no dark-skinned” candidates apply for the position.

Absolute Care & Health – based in South Yarra, Melbourne – was advertising for in-home support care workers for a National Disability Insurance Scheme (NDIS) client.

Among other requirements like having at least two years of experience, being reliable and able to start immediately, applicants were requested to not apply if they were “dark-skinned”.

“We request no dark-skinned (Indian or African) applicants apply for this role (as per client request),” the advertisement read.

Meenu Chandran, a care manager in the aged care sector from Geelong, was sent a screenshot of the ad by a friend and shared it to Facebook, labelling it a “disgrace” and calling on the company to “get your act together”.

She told Yahoo News Australia the language used in the ad could make jobseekers feel unworthy of performing such roles, even when they are perfectly capable.

Meenu Chandran labelled the ad "filth" after it told people who were "dark-skinned" not to apply. Source: Supplied

“It makes us feel that we are not worthy about the job we're doing based on the colour of our skin. It really does take an impact on our mental health,” Ms Chandran said.

“At the end of the day, the funds of NDIS are taxpayers' money. No matter what our skin colours are we pay an equal amount to support those less vulnerable. And to see the certain clients having a choice about what race they want or do not want, it is very disappointing.

“Especially amidst the Black Lives Matter movement which has gone international all over the world right now, I expect health agencies to promote racial harmony and not condone racism.”

In her post to Facebook on Tuesday, Ms Chandran slammed the ad as a “disgrace” and the company for “encouraging racism especially with what's been happening in the world right now”.

“Client's choice doesn't mean they're right. It's 2020... not 1920! Seriously get your act together and advertise respectfully,” she said.

Ms Chandran added it was her “fellow African brother” who sent her the ad, outraged at what he believed to be a disturbing trend among health support service providers.

“He has seen this five times this year and [it’s] the main reason why he had to quit the NDIS field,” she wrote, describing the terminology used in the ad as “filth”.

Others were similarly outraged and lashed out at the company for utilising illegal and discriminatory practices.

This ad remained online for a day before being removed. Source: Supplied

The ad remained visible for one day on job search site Indeed before being taken down.

“They are clearly supporting racism... this is disrespectful,” one person wrote in a comment. Others said it was also inappropriate for the company to request someone over the age of 40.

“How is that allowed? And they are advertising that the client is a racist... who would want to look after them anyway!! (sic) Sounds awful,” another said.

Ms Chandran reported the ad to the Australian Human Rights Commission, however was told it would not take action due to the fact her employment prospects were not directly impacted.

Company apologises for ‘extreme failure’

Absolute Care & Health’s CEO Barbara Ould told Yahoo News Australia the ad was a result of an “extreme failure in our internal processes” and the company was “so very deeply sorry for the offence and distress that our error has caused”.

“As soon as we discovered that the advertisement had been posted, we quickly removed it; published an apology on our website; apologised personally to those who had viewed the advert and those who contacted us with their concerns; formally apologised to all our staff and, started an investigation as to how it happened,” she wrote in a statement.

“A full review is currently underway so we can understand and ensure that this never, ever, happens again. What has already emerged is that the correct recruitment processes and reviews were not followed in this instance. This was human error and we take full responsibility for its impact.

“We absolutely agree that the language used in the job advertisement is completely unacceptable. In no way does it reflect our core values as an organisation or any of us as individuals, or our unwavering commitment to equal opportunity within our company and our community. 

“We have read and we acknowledge every one of the responses we have received. We are grateful that so many people have already spoken up in opposition to our error. While we cannot undo the distress we have caused to so many, we certainly wish to be an active contributor to a healthier, happier and inclusive future where racism, ageism, ableism, discrimination and vilification have no place. We commit to achieving this.

“The diversity of our employees has been a significant strength of our organisation since it was founded and we’re proud to work with a team made up of so many different cultures and backgrounds who deliver exceptional non-judgmental and heartfelt care to our clients.”

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