Don't be a silent bystander

View resources

Speak up and out against racism, racial stereotyping, microaggressions and inequitable practices in your work context. Don’t leave the heavy lifting to people of colour and Indigenous people.

Racist abuse ranges from microagressions, such as patronising comments, through to violence. It can take place online or on the street, in conversations with your friends, family and colleagues, or against a stranger on the bus. It’s important not to stay silent about racism, though different situations call for different tactics.

International data suggests only about one-third of people will speak up when they witness racism. People who have experienced racism in public places report feeling isolated and unsupported when bystanders looked on and did nothing.


Image by stockking

How do I do it?

If you are present around a racist attack in public, speak out if you feel safe to act.

  • Say something, eg ‘Why don’t you leave them alone?’
  • Record the incident and report it to local police and/or anti-discrimination agencies
  • Tell someone responsible (such as a staff member if you’re in a store)
  • Check they’re ok
  • Add your voice if someone else steps up

If someone cracks a racist joke, makes assumptions based on stereotypes or acts in any other racist way, whether or not a person of colour is present, you can challenge them to make it clear to the racist person (and everyone else) that they are out of line with community expectations.

Top resources to Don't be a silent bystander