Bystander power

Take Action

Online and IRL, social conflict is all around us. How can bystanders safely make a difference?

Firstly - it's natural to avoid getting involved (bystander effect).

Secondly - when there's conflict, most of us want to do the right thing. So it feels fine to take action.

Thirdly, calmly think through your options. Do you focus on the target, the aggressor or other bystanders? Choose direct, delegate or distract.

  • Respond directly and calmly to a perpetrator, with an “I” statement, eye contact, neutral; body language and naming the behaivour. I think that's sexual harassment.
  • We can delegate action to security guards, staff or even a confident friend or stranger. Choose a specific person and tell them what you want to see happen. Campus Safety and SecurityOpens in a new window are always available on 1300 737 003 or ext. 2300 from any campus handset.
  • Try distracting by refocusing a convo - say, by asking the target or bystanders about the weather or a favourite song. Or sing it!

There are many creatve amazing ways to intervene, and it feels great.Check out these campaigns by OurWatch (opens in a new window) and the Challenging Racism Project (opens in a new window).

To ask about training, email

Thanks to those of you who were able to attend the Respect Now Always workshop yesterday with Stephen Zissermann who was really brilliant. His recommendations about how to engage and intervene in difficult situations were practical and valuable.