What can you do?

We've all been there. You see or hear something racist and you want to say or do something but you're not sure how to go about it.

It takes guts to stand up to racism – but you should never put your physical safety at risk. There are plenty of things you can do to make a difference that don't involve confrontation.

If you're on the receiving end of racism, you could…

Say something if it feels okay to do so. It doesn't have to be aggressive or abusive. In fact, it's often more effective if it's not. Here are some ideas suggested by young people.

"What you just said is really offensive and rude."

"Please, have some respect for yourself and for others."

Brothablak pointing at camera

Say nothing. Sometimes people just want to provoke you and get a reaction. Walking away may defuse the situation.

Report it. Call the police on 000 if you feel threatened or unsafe at any time.

Online: Most social media sites have policies for dealing with offensive material. For example Facebook allows you to report content that breaches its terms of use. You can get more information about cybersafety here.

At school: Talk to a teacher, counsellor or student welfare officer.

On public transport: Let the bus driver or station guard know what's going on.

"Unlike" it. Check out www.antihate.vic.gov.au for messages you can post in response to 'haters' online.

Talk to someone. Get advice and support from friends, teachers or parents.

"I spoke to my teacher about what happened to me. He couldn't help me too much, but I felt much better when someone was willing to hear and believe what I had experienced".
- Rob, 15

Make a complaint. The Australian Human Rights Commission can investigate and resolve complaints where people have been treated unfairly, harassed or abused because of their race. Our complaints process is free and confidential. You can also contact us to discuss an issue and talk through your options. For more information go to http://www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints-information.

If you see racism towards someone else…

Back them up. You don't have to get involved in the situation – just showing your support would make a difference.

  • Go and sit or stand next to them. Ask them if they're okay.
  • Send the victim a message of support through Facebook, Twitter, SMS or email.
  • Check out https://backmeup.somethingincommon.gov.au  to see videos made by young people across Australia showing how to support someone dealing with cyber bullying.

Say something if it feels ok to do so. Check out this YouTube video for ideas for what to say: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b0Ti-gkJiXc

Report it. If the person who is experiencing the abuse needs help, you could help them report it to the police or a person in charge. You could also support them to make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission. For more information go to http://www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints-information

Encourage the victim to get support. There are some great organisations that offer support in dealing with difficult situations, like Kids Helpline and ReachOut.com

Take your own stand. 

What can you do? (PDF)

What can you do?(Word)