WA minister Simone McGurk apologises for comments made about Tracy Westerman

By Anna Macdonald

May 6, 2022

Tracy Westerman
Psychologist and Nyamal woman Dr Tracy Westerman. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

WA minister for community services, children’s interests and women’s interests Simone McGurk has issued an apology for remarks made during a press conference about psychologist and Nyamal woman Dr Tracy Westerman.

During a press conference in January, McGurk said that Westerman’s report, undertaken by her company Indigenous Psychological Services, “basically asked us to employ Tracy Westerman”, as reported in The West Australian

The comments were in response to a question asked about why the department had not implemented the recommendations laid out in the report, which warned of ‘widespread’ racism within the WA Department of Communities.

In the apology, McGurk acknowledged that the comments may have been seen as derogatory.

“I did not intend to target Dr Westerman or her professional reputation in any derogatory way and apologise for any distress or offence my responses may have caused her.

“I would like to acknowledge the extensive work Dr Westerman has undertaken for the benefit of Aboriginal children and families,” McGurk said. 

Westerman had launched a defamation suit against McGurk over the comments in the Supreme Court of Western Australia. 

In response to the minister’s statement, Westerman welcomed the apology, posting a statement on Twitter.

“For Aboriginal people who manage to break through barriers and achieve scholastic and business success, there is too often, in my opinion, an associated view that our objectivity and motivations are open to question,” Westerman said in the statement. 

She continued: “I took this action in the hope that diminishing the achievements of Aboriginal people doesn’t continue into future generations and the racial equality I have dedicated my life to achieving for our most vulnerable communities will become a reality.”

Westerman highlighted that as a result of the comments, the recommendations within the report had not been implemented. 


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