What is Racism?

Racism takes many forms and can happen in many places. It includes prejudice, discrimination or hatred directed at someone because of their colour, ethnicity or national origin. People often associate racism with acts of abuse or harassment; however, it doesn’t need to involve violent or intimidating behaviour. Sometimes racism can occur in more subtle ways

Much of the racism that occurs can be characterised as casual racism– everyday incidents of racism that aren't necessarily violent or consciously malicious, but perpetuate stereotypes about different cultures through jokes and offhand comments.

Racism can also be systemic – that is, some groups and organisations can have rules that seem to be fair to everyone – but in actual fact these rules often make things more difficult for people from particular cultural or ethnic backgrounds.

Racism also includes treating someone less fairly because of their ethnic identity, religion, cultural practices or nationality.

Racism is more than just words, beliefs and actions. It includes all the barriers that prevent people from enjoying dignity and equality because of their race.  Experiencing racism can have a detrimental effect on people’s health and welfare and this impacts the individual as well as our communities.

Source: Australian Human Rights Commission

What is Western Sydney University doing to combat Racism?

Periodically the University holds Anti-Racism training workshops for all staff to understand the impact that racism has on the workplace and how to contribute in creating an inclusive workplace. There are also many research projects and anti-racism initiatives. You can find out more on the Challenging Racism Project.

Do Something About Racism

Do something about racism.The “Do Something About Racism” bystander anti-racism campaign calls on members of the Western Sydney University community to act when they witness racism – that is to be active anti-racism bystanders. When bystanders don’t speak up to support the target of racism, this displays a lack of support for the person/s who is the target but also implies alliance with the perpetrator.

As part of the campaign the University ran training/workshops, a social marketing/communication campaign and a series of culturally and linguistically diverse community dinners. A research project was conducted in conjunction with the campaign asking the question: "Does participation in organisational bystander anti-racism activities increase knowledge about responding to racism and confidence to undertake bystander anti-racism at Western Sydney University?". The results of this research are summarised in the report "Evaluating the Effectiveness of Three Organisational Bystander Anti-Racism Strategies" (open in new window – link to pdf Bystander Anti-Racism Report Final).

Racial Discrimination

Race discrimination is against the law. The law provides for protection in the workplace, in universities, and in the community amongst other places. If you feel you have been discriminated against, speak with the appropriate person in the circumstance. If you need further assistance you can contact the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW.

Frequently Asked Questions about Racism

The most common questions raised about racism are answered on All Together Now.

Types of bystander anti-racism action

There are many types of bystander anti-racism action that can be taken, including:

  • Reporting the incident to someone in a position of authority (e.g. teacher, supervisor, referee)
  • Reporting the incident to police
  • Reporting the incident to anti-discrimination agency/authority
  • Seeking the help of friends, passersby or colleagues
  • Confronting or disagreeing with the perpetrator
  • Calling it 'racism' or 'discrimination' (if it is safe or productive to do so)
  • Comforting or supporting the person(s) targeted
  • Expressing upset feelings
  • Interrupting or distracting the perpetrator
  • Using humour or making fun of the perpetrator

The best course of action to take will depend on the specific situation. Bystanders must make an assessment of the safest and most productive course of action. (Source: Bystander Anti-Racism, accessed 7 May 2014)

Racism on public transport

Find out what to do if you witness racism on public transport (opens in a new window)