An Aboriginal woman in Australia has been denied opportunity to work with an indigenous rights charity as she looked "too white." The rejection has set off a furious row.
The 24-year-old Tarran Betterridge is a Canberra university student. She said she was "humiliated" Thursday after being told she was too white to work for was told she would be a "perfect" campaigner for Generation One, but that the group was looking for "someone that looked indigenous".
Advertisement"I couldn't believe a company that advocates increasing indigenous employment would question hiring a person because they do not meet the colour standard," she wrote for public broadcaster ABC's website.
"(It) left me feeling useless -- that because I have pale skin I should not be included."
Betterridge, from the Wiradjuri tribe, said she was "in shock and felt humiliated" when she was eventually turned down.
Generation One is a grassroots non-profit group founded by Fortescue Metals founder and mining magnate Andrew "Twiggy" Forrest.
It campaigns to increase education, employment and living standards for Aborigines, Australia's disadvantaged first inhabitants with a culture stretching back many thousands of years, AFP reports.
Generation One, launched last week, is linked to Mr Forrest's Australian Employment Covenant, which was established in 2008 with the goal of creating 50,000 indigenous jobs.
However, Ms Betterridge questions whether corporate Australia is genuine about ending indigenous disadvantage.
"These corporations are trying to make a difference for themselves rather than trying to make a difference for Aboriginal people," she said.
Chief executive Tim Gartrell said Generation One was "shocked and appalled" by the story and had terminated its contract with the recruitment firm, Epic Promotions.
"It's correct that we asked for people of indigenous heritage to work for us and with us," Gartrell told ABC radio.
"At no point did we issue directives asking for indigenous people who look indigenous, that is offensive. That is totally against what we stand for and we would not do that."
Gartrell said he had apologised unreservedly to Betterridge, who is studying to be a teacher, and said it had been both embarrassing and hurtful for her.
But the Canberra university student isn't satisfied with the apology.
"It came out really soon," she told AAP.
"It doesn't really mean anything at such short notice.
"They wanted to try and apologise and get it dealt with before anything went further (in the media)."
Ms Betterridge said Generation One had offered to stay in touch but she wouldn't want to work with an organisation "that's discriminated against myself and my people."
While upset at her treatment, Ms Betterridge hopes the publicity surrounding the incident can lead to a better understanding of Aboriginal people.
"The rest of the country needs to understand that the colour of our skin doesn't determine who we are," she said.
"Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people come in all shapes, sizes and colours."
Aborigines, once more than a million in number, now account for just 470,000 out of a population of 22 million, and suffer disproportionately high rates of disease, imprisonment and unemployment.
Indigenous men die, on average, 11.5 years earlier than non-Aboriginal males.
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