• Police are investigating a Big W employee after she allegedly assaulted a 4-year-old Aboriginal girl at their store in Port Augusta as the girl was leaving. (AAP)Source: AAP
UPDATED: SA Police say a 4-year-old girl was not assaulted by a Big W employee after conducting an investigation into an incident where the family claimed racial profiling and an assault took place.
Douglas Smith

8 Jun 2020 - 4:02 PM  UPDATED 8 Jun 2020 - 9:21 PM

The South Australian Police have concluded an investigation into an incident where a Big W employee allegedly racially profiled and assaulted a four-year-old Aboriginal girl, with the outcome saying the altercation did not happen.

The incident, which the girl's grandmother said occurred in the town of Port Augusta on Wednesday last week, was investigated by SA police, who said the CCTV footage from Big W was "inconsistent" with original information given by the family. 

However, both Big W and SA Police have refused to release footage of the incident to ABC News after they submitted a request to access it.

"Investigating officers have viewed CCTV of the incident, which showed a Big W staff member view a price tag that was still attached to the collar of the clothing that the child was wearing while still inside the store," said a SA Police spokesperson. 

"The child was not grabbed or injured as a result of viewing the price tag.

"Police can confirm that the child had not been assaulted and the investigation has been concluded."

Speaking to NITV News on Monday, the girl's Grandmother, Regina McKenzie, accused the staff member of racially profiling her granddaughter as she stopped the girl and her father on the way out of the store. 

“She pulled my granddaughter by the hoodie and hurt her neck with the father standing there,” said Ms McKenzie.

“My little granddaughter was really scared, now whenever Michael (the girl's father) says they are going to the shop, she starts crying and saying, ‘no, I don't want to go there’.

“She actually thinks that she has done something wrong.”

Ms McKenzie said the girl's father, Michael Donovan, had taken his three daughters to Big W to buy them presents as a reward for doing well in school and kindergarten.

“The father took them down to get them a reward, and the reward they got was being racially profiled,” she said.

Adnyamathanha Elder and Port Augusta local, Vince Coulthard, also told NITV News on Monday that there was an issue with racial profiling in Port Augusta shopping centres.

“The family went in there just to get new clothing and apparently the staff there wanted to check the tags on the clothing because they thought they had stolen it,” said Mr Coulthard.

“It happens here in Port Augusta all the time.

“That incident isn’t an incident that is just a one-off thing, it's just that not many people follow through with reporting it.”

In a statement, a spokesperson from Big W said the store manager of the Port Augusta branch apologised “wholeheartedly” for the way the situation was managed, but checking people when leaving was “usual store procedure”.

“Upon reviewing the situation in our Port Augusta store, the store manager has acknowledged that the team member could have managed the situation more respectfully and has apologised wholeheartedly for any upset it has caused,” said the spokesperson.

“As part of our usual store procedure, our customer service team members do check bags and items as customers leave the store.

“As part of the Woolworths Group, all team members who join BIG W are required to complete a mandatory code of conduct training that requires all team members to treat our customers, suppliers and community members equally.”

NITV News has reached out to Mr Donovan for comment. 

Marcia Langton among Indigenous recipients of Queens Birthday Honours
A number of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who've made their mark on the arts, education, health, and in their communities have been named in the Queens Birthday Honour list.