Conference hears racism is rife in mining

Chair of WA’s Indigenous Women in Mining Council said racism is rife throughout the resource sector, and has seen many Aboriginal employees walk off the job.

Speaking at the 2013 Indigenous Women in Mining WA conference in Perth today, Christine Ross said while racism exists in all workplaces, it was more likely to occur in Australia’s mining, oil and gas sectors.

"Racism is always rife, no matter where you work, it's across the industry,” Ross told Babs McHugh of the ABC.

"And sometimes, in the resources sector, people are not always politically correct, whereas if you look at the public service they're a little bit more aware of it. “

The comments come after an Indigenous woman in Queensland appeared in court last week to sue her former employer after claiming racial and verbal abuse, including threats to push her truck off a berm, left her with serious psychological damage.

Ross said it was important for mining firms and individuals alike to stamp out racism at work.

"We've still got a lot of work to do, particularly out in our mine sites, in reminding companies there's a zero tolerance of it,” she said.

"At the end of the day it exists, and it's the one reason our Aboriginal employees will walk off any job.

"If racism is not nipped in the bud and dealt with, then they will simply walk."

The two-day conference aims to bring Indigenous women from across the WA resource sector together to discuss career opportunities in the sector, support services, and mentoring.

Other topics over the two days will include career planning, Native Title, Indigenous diversity and employment and financial management strategies.

Sponsored by Rio Tinto, FMG, Woodside and Laing O’Rourke, the two day event is expected to attract more than 1000 visitors.

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