Bar owner defends racist sign

Last updated 17:10 05/03/2014
coolggard
The sign that was erected outside a pub in Western Australia.

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A Western Australian publican has defended putting up a poster barring service to indigenous people after her mobile phone was stolen.

Deborah Ovens, publican of the Denver City Hotel in Coolgardie, said she put the sign up on the wall of her pub after her iPhone was stolen from the pub on March 1.

She said there was "no issue" with the sign, which has gone viral across Facebook with 833 shares and 267 comments.

"I just put that up to try and get my phone back," she said.

"You just get so angry when you open up to the community and then you get your property stolen."

She said several indigenous customers entered the hotel while the poster was up.

"They came in, we spoke about it, and they left."

"You know, they don't always have the money to pay for anything anyway.

"It's all dealt with now, the issue is over, the sign is down because I got a replacement phone."

A caller to Radio 6PR, Lisa, said her nephew, an Aboriginal man working in the mining industry, was refused service when he went into the pub with a group of non-Aboriginal work friends.

"We went up to the bar and they wouldn't serve him, he asked why not and they just pointed to the sign," she said.

"He couldn't believe it, he was really shocked.

"It's assuming that all Aboriginal people know each other and my nephew has no idea who the person is.

"He's been for a drink there before, but as soon as they pointed to the sign he and his work friends left and went to another pub."

Aboriginal Legal Service of WA CEO Dennis Eggington said he found the poster offensive and highly discriminatory.

"This sort of thing, a poster like that, is disgraceful," he said.

"These sorts of things in the past have led to a range of things like vigilante groups going out, it's not on.

"I'm sure there are other Aboriginal people who use the pub and if she turned them away I'd think it would take away a fair bit of her revenue.

"I would think we've moved on in society since the days where we take it out on a whole group of people.

"She runs the risk now of offending lots of aboriginal people in Coolgardie... I can't understand why you would do something so stupid."

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- WA Today

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