Fury as public housing tenants compared to monkeys

TOWNSVILLE Department of Housing staff have complained after being sent training material that they say characterised public housing tenants as monkeys.

The training module, entitled "Monkey Management", depicts monkeys working in an office with messaging such as "Monkeys should be fed or shot, but never starved" and "Keep the monkey population below the number you have time to feed".

Sources told the Bulletin case workers were offended by the "highly racist" material, with many believing it was an insensitive attack on indigenous staff and public housing tenants.

It's understood the module was distributed by a human resources officer to staff as far north as Cairns and out to Mount Isa.

The department apologised to staff who received the email after several indigenous staff complained to management and the Together Union.

A spokesman said the document was not produced by the department but staff who sent it had been "counselled".

"It is not a part of the department's suite of leadership offerings," the spokesman said.

"Staff members who distributed the material have been counselled about its inappropriateness.

"The department apologises to anyone who was offended by the material and this is being communicated to staff."

Housing and Public Works Minister Mick de Brenni said staff were justifiably upset.

"It shouldn't be a surprise that Australians living in 2017 may find this material insensitive," he said.

"I can only imagine how I would feel if I was a staff member who had this just randomly turn up in their email inbox.

"I know that I wouldn't feel that great turning up to work the next day.

"I think our Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander colleagues have every right to feel let down by this."

Mr de Brenni confirmed managers would be counselled.

"The Department of Housing and Public Works has a wonderfully diverse workforce across the state and especially in the North," he said.

"People should be working together."

Together Union Townsville organiser Norm Jacobsen said: "It's very disappointing and we're very offended by the information."

Shadow Housing Minister Steve Bennett said the material was demeaning.

"I can completely understand why hardworking Housing Department employees in North Queensland think this training material is inappropriate and demeaning," he said.

"Training programs should be inspiring and uplifting, not derogatory."

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