A FAIR GO: Members of the Sudanese community, from left, AJ, Ajak Kuot and Jacob Elia, relax at The Central Hotel yesterday. The group say they’re not getting a fair go in Rockhampton.
A FAIR GO: Members of the Sudanese community, from left, AJ, Ajak Kuot and Jacob Elia, relax at The Central Hotel yesterday. The group say they’re not getting a fair go in Rockhampton. Allan Reinikka

Sudanese want fair go

ALL Jacob Elia and his Sudanese friends want is a fair go in Rockhampton.

The group yesterday spoke about their frustrations, feeling they were being treated unfairly and victimised.

They say they have come to Rockhampton to work and they’re not looking for trouble.

Having arrived in Rockhampton for a job at the meatworks, Jacob said he and many of his fellow countrymen had been subjected to bans from businesses – including a shop, pubs and clubs – frequent racial taunts, people picking fights and general harassment.

He argues that if one Sudanese person commits a minor infringement, all are tarred with the same brush.

Having lived in Australia for several years, he said Rockhampton was worse than Toowoomba, where a racist group targeted members of the Sudanese community in 2005.

“They’re judging a book by its cover,” Jacob, 23, said.

“If you want to know me, come up and talk to me.

“If you came to my country I would never treat you like this.

“We’ve done nothing wrong.”

He said everything was great at his work, but problems arose when Sudanese people were out and about in the community.

They were often yelled at and felt singled out when they were going about their business.

The group said a couple of weeks ago a Sudanese person was involved in a fight in the city and since then a number of hotels and clubs had barred them all.

“If one person does it, why should all of us be banned?” Jacob said.

The Central Hotel’s Donna Ketu is one person who has put out the welcome mat for a growing number the Sudanese coming to Rockhampton for work.

Donna has got to know those staying at the hotel.

She said she’d seen first-hand the rough deal they were getting.

“I really feel for them,” Donna said.

“It’s not just these guys; there are plenty more.

“I find it embarrassing when they come to stay here and I have to tell them they can’t go into certain places to save them from rejection.

“That’s really hard.”

Ajak Kuot, 26, said Rockhampton was as bad a place as he’d encountered since coming to Australia from the war-torn land six years ago.

“I don’t want to stay here for long,” he said.

“We are earning money and we should be able to enjoy spending it.

“We’re not here to make trouble; we’re here to make money.

“We feel like we’re the most wanted boys, where everyone wants to have a go at us.”

A Rockhampton police spokesman yesterday said apart from a couple of minor traffic infringements he wasn’t aware of any problems caused by members of the Sudanese community.

The Morning Bulletin contacted three of the establishments where the group said they were barred, but no one was available for comment yesterday.

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