Labor's Bec Cody blasts Sussex Inlet RSL Club as a disgrace for "Aboriginal kitsch"

A photograph supplied by ACT Labor politician Bec Cody of the men's urinal at the Sussex Inlet RSL, with tiles depicting Aboriginal men. Photo: Supplied

A photograph supplied by ACT Labor politician Bec Cody of the men's urinal at the Sussex Inlet RSL, with tiles depicting Aboriginal men. Photo: Supplied

ACT Labor politician Bec Cody has blasted the Sussex Inlet RSL Club a "disgrace" to itself, to veterans and to Australia for tiles in the men's urinal depicting Aboriginal men.

Ms Cody used the adjournment debate in the ACT parliament to call on the national and state bodies of the Returned and Services League to "address this filth as a matter of urgency".

"The RSL would think it grossly offensive to place a portrait of the Queen, the Australian flag, or a Rising Sun emblem in the toilet, so why does it think caricatures of our first Australians is acceptable?" she said.

Not happy: Bec Cody MLA. Photo: Jamila Toderas

Not happy: Bec Cody MLA. Photo: Jamila Toderas

"I wish this did not fall into a long history of disgraceful behaviour by this organisation. The freedom riders of 1965 protested the refusal of RSL clubs to accept Indigenous veterans as equals."

Ms Cody said her husband, Bruce, had noticed the tiles on a visit during the summer break.

"Whilst spending what was otherwise a pleasant evening at the Sussex Inlet RSL, my husband returned from the toilets to inform me that the urinals in that club have pictures of Aboriginal men set up in the urinal,” she said.

"Let me say that again. In 2017, in Australia, in a club that promotes itself as championing our values and respect for our national heritage, men are expected to urinate on Aboriginals."

But her attack left the club perplexed and disbelieving. Supervisor on duty Gay Griffin said she only ever fielded one complaint in her years at the club, and that was this summer - presumably the night Ms Cody and her husband visited.

"He was livid ... he just carried on like a pork chop," she said of the man who complained.

The complaint prompted her to have a look at the tiles for the first time.

​Another tile in the men's toilet in the Sussex Inlet RSL.  Photo: Supplied by the RSL.

​Another tile in the men's toilet in the Sussex Inlet RSL. Photo: Supplied by the RSL.

"I went and had a look myself and it's nothing that he would have got infuriated over, it's ridiculous," she said.

Club director Max Greedy said he had been on the board of the club for 12 years and in Sussex Inlet for 20 and had never heard anyone complain before.

A photograph supplied by ACT Labor politician Bec Cody showing one of the tiles in the men's urinal at the Sussex Inlet RSL, which she says is a disgrace. Photo: Supplied

A photograph supplied by ACT Labor politician Bec Cody showing one of the tiles in the men's urinal at the Sussex Inlet RSL, which she says is a disgrace. Photo: Supplied

But Ms Cody accused the club of standing by racists, and she said it must not attempt to hide behind the respect that Australia owed veterans.

"My husband is a returned serviceman from Iraq, and I know the courage, the honour, and the sacrifice he and his comrades have made down the generations. That this RSL club has taken the hard-earned and well-deserved honour Australians show to veterans and perverted it is disgusting."

This story first appeared in the Canberra Times. 

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