First National Real Estate boss Ray Ellis has been accused of being a ringleader behind the mocking of Indigenous culture at a youth awards ceremony in Victoria on Friday night.
Indigenous entrepreneur Jaynaya Winmar on Monday called out First National for the alleged behaviour of its representatives at the Victorian 7News Young Achiever Awards on Friday night, of which it is a major sponsor.
Mr Ellis’ company was accused of mocking acknowledgements of Country all night and poking fun at gender diverse people in a speech.
In response a First National spokesperson said their actions had been misconstrued and the company supported all Australians.
But now Ms Winmar has claimed Mr Ellis, First National’s chief executive, was actively involved in the crude behaviour.
“He actually… was one of the instigators with holding the finger count across the table to his counterparts,” she said.
“It was mostly the eye-rolling and counting of how many times there was an acknowledgement of Country.
“We ignore it on a daily level but to continually watch it throughout the night get worse and worse was disheartening.”
Ms Winmar said she had received overwhelming support online for calling out the alleged behaviour.
First National did not respond to further requests for comment.
On Tuesday a First National spokesman said the company was committed to young achievers.
“The First National Real Estate network has been a major sponsor of the Young Achiever awards nationally for over 10 years,” he said.
“During that time, the chief executive has attended virtually every award event and considers it a highlight of his yearly calendar.
“We fully support and recognise all Australians, in particular our first nations people, diversity and inclusion, and any comments and/or perceptions to the contrary have been misconstrued.”
Awards Australia encouraged anyone with feedback about the events of the night to contact them.