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When people who witness racism speak out against it, this makes the person being targeted feel supported, and can make the person being racist reconsider their behaviour. Don’t put yourself at risk. But if it is safe to do so, speak up and stand with the victim. Even a simple gesture can be powerful.
If you see racist behaviour you can:
View the Australian Human Rights Commission tips for bystanders.
The law aims to strike a balance between the right to communicate freely (‘freedom of speech’) and the right to live free from racial hatred. Some actions may not be against the law if they are “done reasonably and in good faith”.
Racial discrimination happens when a person is treated less favourably than another person in a similar situation because of their race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status like refusing to rent a house to a person because they are of a particular racial background or skin colour.
Racial discrimination also happens when there is a rule or policy that is the same for everyone but has an unfair effect on people of a particular race, colour, descent, national or ethnic origin or immigrant status like a company saying employees must not wear hats or other headwear at work, which is likely to have an unfair effect on people from some racial/ethnic backgrounds.
If you experience racial discrimination or hatred you can make a complaint to the Australian Human Rights Commission. The complaint process is simple, free and flexible.
To lodge a complaint with the Australian Human Rights Commission, visit www.humanrights.gov.au/complaints
The Australian Human Rights Commission’s National Information Service (NIS) provides information and referrals for individuals, organisations and employers about a range of human rights and discrimination issues. This service is free and confidential.
The NIS can:
Please note that the NIS is unable to provide legal advice.
You can contact the NIS by:
A new 24/7 support service specifically designed to help people through the COVID-19 pandemic is available free of charge to all Australians.
The support service can be accessed through the Beyond Blue coronavirus page.
Kids Helpline is a free service for young people aged 5 to 25. Kids, teens and young adults can call 1800 551 800 at any time.