$77k for black remark

A FRASER Coast man who had to take two years off work for depression after being referred to as a "black fella" by a co-worker will receive a $77,000 payout.

George Fleetwood Barney, a residential care officer for the Department of Communities, went on sick leave in 2007.

The Queensland Civil and Administrative Tribunal (QCAT) heard that this happened after he found out a co-worker Wendy Petersen had refused to swap a shift because "the blackfella is going to be on there" and "I've got to work with that black one".

He claimed compensation against the State Government and Ms Petersen, and last November was awarded $76,704, including $40,000 in general damages for hurt, humiliation, pain or suffering.

But the payout was appealed on the grounds that amount was excessive, assessed on wrong principles and that Mr Barney had failed to prove the acts of discrimination caused his illness and economic loss.

Last week, the tribunal dismissed the appeal and Mr Barney will now receive $77,000 - the highest amount of damages awarded for racial discrimination in Queensland.

The tribunal heard that in July 2007 Mr Barney found out that Ms Petersen had refused to swap a shift, saying: "I don't want to go there because the blackfella is going to be on there" or similar words.

When she was directed to apologise, she phoned Mr Barney and said words to the effect of: "You are black, black, black, just accept it."

QCAT member Aaron Suthers said Mr Barney's depression and anxiety were "significantly caused" by the discrimination.

He reduced general damages by 30%, saying the depression may not have been entirely caused by discrimination.


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