News, Culture & Society

Peta Credlin apology to Melbourne’s South Sudanese community after blaming them for Covid outbreak

Peta Credlin is forced to issue a humiliating on-air apology to Melbourne’s South Sudanese community after wrongly blaming them for a major Covid outbreak

  • Former political staffer and Sky News host Peta Credlin issued on air apology 
  • Ms Credlin falsely blamed South Sudanese community for Covid outbreak 
  • Her comments were not based on fact and ‘deeply offensive’, she admitted 
  • She had previously apologised in 2020 but said that didn’t go far enough 

Sky News host Peta Credlin has issued a second lengthy apology for baselessly blaming a major Melbourne Covid outbreak on ‘poorly assimilated migrants’ from the South Sudanese community. 

Ms Credlin said she ‘extended to the South Sudanese community my sincerest apologies for these errors and the hurt and humiliation caused by the broadcast’.

She admitted on air that it was ‘deeply offensive’ that she ‘implied the community was about gang membership, unemployment and an inability to speak Australia’s national language to the point of not knowing about social distancing’.

The 50-year-old had previously apologised in June 2020 over the comments, directed largely at the Dinka ethnic group, but said that retraction didn’t go far enough. 

She had claimed the spike in Covid cases in the early days of Victoria’s second wave was because of South Sudanese people having an ‘end-of-Ramadan feast’. 

But figures from the Melbourne-based Society of South Sudanese Professionals shows more than 93 per cent of the South Sudanese community, particularly Dinkas, are Christian – not Muslim.

The SSSPA hit back at the comments, calling them a smear and ‘a misleading and targeted attack on Victoria’s South Sudanese community’.

‘South Sudanese people are abiding by COVID-19 restrictions, evidenced by extremely low numbers of infection in the South Sudanese community,’ it said.

Ms Credlin admitted on Friday her comments were ‘factually wrong’.

Peta Credlin has backtracked over comments blaming a Melbourne Covid outbreak on the South Sudanese community (pictured with husband Brian Loughnane at the annual Mid Winter Ball at Parliament House in Canberra in2018) 

‘My statements were understood to mean the community had been reckless and irresponsible or even deliberate in breaching social distancing requirements and that the community had failed to adapt its cultural practices,’ she said.

‘I do not believe there was any truth to those inferences.’

She said since then she has met several times with a number of representatives. 

‘While I broadcast an apology in June last year. I said that I stood by other statements I made. I now realise the apology was too limited and caused further offence which was not my intention.’

She said she wanted to ‘correct the record’ and would be airing stories in the coming months highlighting the South Sudanese community’s positive contribution to Australia. 

On Friday, Ms Credlin (pictured) said her comments were 'inaccurate' and 'deeply offensive'

On Friday, Ms Credlin (pictured) said her comments were ‘inaccurate’ and ‘deeply offensive’ 

Ms Credlin rattled off an extensive list of inaccurate claims she had made.  

‘I said that 15 per cent of the South Sudenese community speak virtually no English.’ she said.

‘What the statistics show is that the overwhelming majority at 96.5 per cent of South Sudanese migrants speak some English.

‘Around 84 per cent speak only English or English well or very well.’

She also claimed large numbers of women were prevented from being educated.

‘The statistics also show are large portion are well educated,’ she said.

‘Some Sudanese women felt I singled them out for unfounded criticism which i deeply regret.’

The comments previously drew a significant backlash from the South Sudanese community

The comments previously drew a significant backlash from the South Sudanese community 

Richmond AFLW star Akec Makur Chuot (pictured) said she didn't accept the apology

Richmond AFLW star Akec Makur Chuot (pictured) said she didn’t accept the apology 

She also said 32 per cent of the community were unemployed but admitted this doesn’t include the many members who were born in Australia.

And that 70 per cent earn less than $800 a week, which she failed to mention is roughly in line with the Victorian average.

‘This is a complex issue I unfairly simplified,’ she said. 

‘Peta Credlin and Sky News Australia accept these comments were inaccurate and sincerely apologise for any offence caused by the remarks which have been removed from all platforms,’ the network previously said in a statement.