If you witness racist behaviour, there are lots of things you can do to help. As a bystander, you may be able to stop a racist incident, prevent it from escalating, and potentially prevent or minimise social or emotional harm to the targeted person or group.
Taking a personal stand contributes to the establishment of social norms that make racist behaviour unacceptable in our community. It also has the potential to positively affect individuals' attitudes in the long term.
Types of bystander anti-racism
What action you decide to take will depend on the situation and whether you consider it safe and constructive. Bystander anti-racism need not always be confrontational.
- Report the incident to someone in a position of authority.
- Report the incident to police or, if on campus, to the Safer Community Unit.
- Report the incident to the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission.
- Seek the help of friends, passers-by or colleagues.
- Interrupt or distract the perpetrator.
- Confront or disagree with the perpetrator if you feel safe to do so.
- State to the perpetrator that you find the behaviour upsetting.
- Call the behaviour out as racism or discrimination if you feel safe to do so.
- Take note of anything that may later help identify the perpetrator.
- Record the incident on your phone or other device if you feel safe to do so.
- Comfort or support the person or group that has been targeted.
References and further reading
- Bystander Anti-racism (University of Western Sydney)
- What can you do? (Racism. It stops with me)
- Choosing to act: Bystander action to prevent race-based discrimination (VicHealth)
- Bystander anti-racism: A review of the literature (pdf, 0.14 mb)
Learn how you can make a difference – watch this video created by a student of Art, Design and Architecture at Monash.