Indigenous artist accuses Australian Border Force of racial profiling

 abc.net.au  7/18/2017 6:21:49 AM   ABC Sunshine Coast By Jonathan Hair and Annie Gaffney

Posted July 18, 2017 16:21:49

A prominent Indigenous artist from Queensland has alleged he was racially profiled and "interrogated" by Australian Border Force staff on his return to Australia from a diplomatic trip to Indonesia.

Jandamarra Cadd had been asked to attend NAIDOC week celebrations in Jakarta and Bali by the Australian embassy, and had just flown back into Brisbane Airport when the incident occurred.

The artist, who has previously been an Archibald Prize finalist, said he was tapped on the shoulder by an officer at Brisbane Airport, and subjected to an "interrogation" for about 45 minutes, in front of other staff and passengers.

"I feel it was due to the colour of my skin, and the other person that was taken aside was a brown man as well," Mr Cadd said.

"Very much I felt, that I had to prove that I was a human being at that moment, prove that I'd done nothing wrong.

"It was kind of like an interrogation."

Mr Cadd said every item he was carrying in his bag was scrutinised, including receipts, notes and gifts from his daughters.

As part of that, a number of items were tested for drugs and explosives.

He raised with officers that he felt uncomfortable, but he claims his concerns were dismissed.

"The man came over to do the scan for drugs or explosives, and he said to me 'Is it going to come back with anything? Is there anything you need to tell me? Is there something you need to tell me right now?'," Mr Cadd said.

"And I was just like, I felt quite violated.

"I said 'Listen, this brings up a lot of stuff for me because Aboriginal people feel like they have no rights, and I'm feeling this right now'.

"He said, 'Well that's your feeling, this is what it is'."

Mr Cadd said the experience reminded him of the days before First Australians were seen as citizens.

"It did bring up a lot of triggers for me, because I've seen my mother, I've seen my grandmother, I've seen by uncles and my aunties, as well as myself back in the 70s, being treated in this way because we didn't have rights," Mr Cadd said.

"It feels really surreal when I do come back, and that experience beings me back to the reality.

"You're back in Australia, you're back in this line of, got to watch what you say, how you say, how you behave, because you have to prove that you're worthy of living in this society," he said.

Border Force says officers treat all with dignity and respect

In a statement, the Australian Border Force says it does not question or search passengers based on their race, religion or ethnicity.

It said its officers have various powers to stop, question, and search travellers, prior to and on arrival at the border.

It added for operational reasons, it is unable to provide further details on the factors that inform its risk assessment of passengers.

It says its officers are expected to act with professionalism, in accordance with the law and with respect to cultural sensitivities, treating all with dignity and respect.

Topics: contemporary-art, indigenous-culture, federal-government, brisbane-4000, maroochydore-4558, indonesia

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