The SOAR Project: Speak Out Against Racism

SOAR LogoProfessor Kevin Dunn and Dr. Oishee Alam from Western Sydney University are working with the Australian National University (ANU) to investigate prosocial behaviours among school students in response to racism and racial bullying. This project is funded by an ARC Linkage Grant (LP140100413), the NSW Department of Education and the Department of Education and Training Victoria. The research team includes Dr. Naomi Priest and Dr. Tania King (ANU), Prof. Anne Kavanagh (University of Melbourne), Prof. Yin Paradies (Deakin University), Dr. Jacqueline Nelson (University of Technology, Sydney), and we are also partnered with the Australian Human Rights Commission. For more information on this project you can visit the ANU SOAR Project page.

The Project

Racism and racial bullying are important issues in the lives of many Australian children and young people, especially at school. This project aims to substantially increase understandings of bystander responses (including their extent, nature, potential, merits, benefits, constraints) as a means of countering racism and racial bullying among Australian school students. This will be achieved by:

  1. Examining experiences of, attitudes towards, and responses to, racism and racial bullying among school students
  2. Identifying health, wellbeing, education and social outcomes of racism and racial bullying for individuals, schools and communities
  3. Exploring the enablers and obstacles associated with bystander responses to racism and racial bullying
  4. Developing, piloting and evaluating a school-based program to foster proactive bystander responses to racism and racial bullying.


This mixed-method study will be conducted across two key phases.  Data collection will begin in Term 1 2017 with a baseline representative survey of school students in years 5-9 in Victoria and NSW (n=6,000 students across 60 schools) to gather data on existing bystander responses to racism and racial bullying.  Teachers from those schools will complete brief surveys documenting their observations in relation to bullying and discrimination, as well as their school climate. In a substudy, secondary students will be invited to participate in a daily diary using their mobile phone, to document their experiences during the day over a period of two weeks.

Following the baseline survey, an intervention program will be delivered to four schools, including two schools that will form the wait list control group. The intervention will be a school-based program to support students in pro-social behaviour against racism and racial bullying, and will include teacher training, online resources and tools, and workshops for students. A post-test survey questionnaire will be administered to intervention and control schools immediately following the first round of intervention, and again after the wait list control schools receive the intervention, to track changes across time and between intervention and wait list control schools.

Focus groups and in-depth interviews will be conducted among students, teachers and members of school leadership in the schools that receive the intervention program, to examine their experiences and responses in greater depth.


The findings of the project will be released after data analysis has been completed in 2018.