Public sector workers to receive training to address discrimination against Travellers

Written by Tom Freeman on 23 October 2018 in News

Scottish Government, COSLA and Police Scotland announce joint work to address discrimination throughout public services, announces Christina McKelvie

Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie - Scottish Government

Public sector workers and councillors are to receive extra training to address discrimination against Gypsy/Traveller communities, Scotland’s Equalities Minister Christina McKelvie has announced.

The programme will be a collaboration between the Scottish Government, COSLA and Police Scotland and developed with Traveller representatives.

The announcement comes after Holyrood revealed that a recent internal memo at NHS NSS had advised staff not to approach a local group of Travellers and to secure their possessions.

Speaking at Holyrood’s event on providing safe homes for Travellers, McKelvie said the incident “showed there is much work to be done challenging perceptions across society and in our public institutions.”

She added: “I am not going to let one memo destroy the good work we’ve been doing in the past few years.

“So as public sector leaders we stand united in our commitment to address the racism and discrimination Gypsy/Traveller communities face.

“We are working together to design a strong, decisive approach which underpins the zero tolerance approach to hate crime highlighted by the ‘Letters From Scotland’ campaign.

“That’s why today the Scottish Government, COSLA and Police Scotland are jointly announcing plans for a new programme of work to ensure discrimination against the Gypsy/Traveller community is eliminated, with the full support and leadership of our public services.

“This will ensure staff delivering our public services will understand and respect Gypsy/Traveller rights and culture, act swiftly to address discriminatory attitudes, language and behaviour directed towards the community and stand ready to support Gypsy/Travellers to report any discrimination.”

Councillor Elena Whitham, COSLA’s Community Wellbeing spokesperson, said the programme would be “meaningful training” provided to all services from doctors to schools.

“I am clear that this work must include leaders from across the public sector and it must have a shared and unified message that racism and discrimination will not be tolerated in any form,” she said.

As described by Traveller activist Davie Donaldson to Holyrood recently, many young travellers hide their cultural identity at school to avoid discrimination.

Campaign group Article 12 developed curriculum materials on Traveller traditions and culture with Education Scotland in 2017, but say many teachers are not yet confident delivering it.

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