Skip to main content

No place for racism

Racism has no place in Australian society. However, too many people continue to encounter it in their daily lives.

  • Around one in five Australians say they have experienced race-hate talk, such as verbal abuse, racial slurs or name-calling.
  • More than one in 20 Australians say they have been physically attacked because of their race.

In 2011, the Australian Government made a commitment to develop and implement a comprehensive National Anti-Racism Strategy.

The three year Strategy aims to generate sustained progress towards three key goals:

  • More Australians will recognise that racism continues to be a serious issue in our community.
  • More Australians will get involved in practical action to tackle racism, wherever they see it.
  • Individuals will have the resources they need to address racism they encounter, to access legal protections and, where necessary, to obtain redress.

It has a focus on public awareness, education resources and youth engagement and will be underpinned by research, consultation and evaluation.

A key initiative of the Strategy is a nation-wide public awareness campaign, Racism. It Stops with Me.

Both the Strategy and campaign were launched in August 2012.

Listening to the community

The Strategy was directly shaped by the views of ordinary Australians through a wide-ranging consultation process held in early 2012.

We held consultations across every state and territory involving almost 700 people. We also received 200 submissions and over 1500 survey responses.

Nine out of ten survey respondents said racism was an “extremely important” or “very important” issue for Australia.

One clear message came through the consultation: tackling racism in all its forms is critically important if we want to build fair and inclusive communities.


‘(Racism) creates a divide. Australia is one country but it doesn’t feel like it.’

Survey respondent, National Anti-Racism Strategy consultation


There was also broad agreement about the priority areas where racism should be addressed, including:

  • education
  • workplaces
  • sport
  • services provided by government
  • online communication, and
  • the media.

Working in partnership

The Strategy has been developed and implemented through a partnership led by the Australian Human Rights Commission and including:

  • Attorney-General’s Department
  • Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs (FAHCSIA)
  • Department of Immigration and Citizenship
  • Australian Multicultural Council
  • National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples
  • Federation of Ethnic Communities’ Councils of Australia.

The Partnerships meets regularly to provide strategic advice about the direction of the Strategy and campaign activities. Partnership members also help build support across government and within the community for our shared goal of tackling racism in all its forms.

Charting our progress

This report provides a snapshot of data collected during the first year of the National Anti-Racism Strategy and campaign through a survey of campaign supporters and evaluation of community engagement activities. It also features a selection of anti-racism initiatives undertaken by our campaign supporters.

This data and other anecdotal evidence indicate that the Strategy and campaign have had a positive impact in its first year by:

  • communicating a clear message that racism is unacceptable
  • contributing to an increase in constructive media discussion about racism in Australia
  • supporting prominent Australian leaders and organisations to take a public stand against racism
  • increasing public understanding about the important role that bystanders can play in responding to racism, and
  • encouraging young people to think about the impact of racist words and actions and providing strategies to stand up to racism when it’s safe to do so.

A more detailed evaluation of the first year of the Strategy and campaign is available on the Commission’s website. This is a first step in the evaluation process which will be implemented throughout the life of the Strategy, guided by a framework which covers the planning, development and implementation stages of the Strategy and campaign. We will be measuring our progress at regular points, charting what has worked and why it has been effective.

Building on firm foundations

When we developed the Strategy and campaign we looked at all the available evidence about what works in tackling racism.

Both the Strategy and the campaign are informed by the following key principles, which were highlighted in the research.

  • Use complementary strategies and work at multiple levels, including at the individual, organisational, community and societal levels.[1]
  • Engage people with relatively moderate racist views, rather than those who are particularly intolerant.[2]
  • Build empathy and promote dialogue about racism.[3]
  • Focus on changing behaviours as much as changing attitudes.[4]
  • Address institutional or organisational racism in particular settings. To be effective, this must involve a range of coordinated interventions and be supported by management.[5]
  • Adapt strategies to different settings and audiences, including local settings.[6]
  • Target anti-racism initiatives towards priority areas, including workplaces, education and sport.[7]



‘I’m a proud Australian but (racism) does make me cringe. We can do better.’

Survey respondent, National Anti-Racism Strategy consultation

A call to action

Our public awareness campaign – Racism. It Stops with Me – is a call to action which invites all Australians to reflect on what they can do to counter racism, wherever it happens.

It also aims to support, promote and coordinate the many anti-racism initiatives taking place in communities, schools, workplaces and sporting clubs across the country.

We believe that building on these locally-developed programs is the most effective and sustainable way to prevent and respond to racism in the long term.

The campaign highlights examples of good practice through the Racism. It Stops with Me website, in regular news stories and through email updates to our supporters.

Our aim is to inspire other organisations and individuals to consider what they can do to take a stance against racism in the places where they live, work, study or play sport.

Over the past year, more than 160 organisations – from the business, sports, education, local government and community sectors – have signed on as supporters of the Racism. It Stops with Me campaign.

In addition, over 900 Australians have pledged their personal support to the campaign.

A full list of our supporter organisations is included at the end of this publication.



‘All good people must stand solidly against racism. It’s very important to do this publicly.’

Football Federation of Victoria

Supporting our supporters

Our campaign supporters are crucial to the reach and effectiveness of the National Anti-Racism Strategy.

Over the past year, more than 160 organisations have pledged their support to tackling racism in Australia. They include leading companies, national sporting bodies, universities, local councils and community-based organisations.

We seek to provide our supporters with information and resources to assist them to take action against racism. We also provide them with regular email updates to highlight new developments and provide examples of good practice around the country.

As part of our evaluation process, we conducted a survey with our supporter organisations.

  • 95% of respondents said they had read the information about racism on the campaign website.
  • 85% of respondents said that awareness of racism had increased among their organisation’s staff, customers/clients and/or members and affiliates.
  • 70% of respondents indicated that they had used the campaign’s information resources in their activities and promotions over the past year.
  • 70% of respondents said they had implemented anti-racism activities to support the campaign, such as developing anti-racism policies and procedures, holding events or making a public statement against racism.
  • 52% of respondents felt they were better equipped to respond to racism since signing on to the campaign.


Information about supporting the campaign is available at:


‘(We support the campaign) because racism can only be tackled by everyone standing up and confronting it when the see it. (We) also wanted to raise awareness of it across all levels of the organisation and give employees the confidence to take action as required to reduce racism.’

Wyndham Community and Education Centre


Our supporters in action: Ventura Bus Lines

On 11 November 2012, French woman Fanny Desaintjores was racially abused by fellow passengers while travelling in Melbourne on a bus operated by Ventura. Footage of the incident was posted on YouTube and received widespread media attention.

Ventura – the largest private bus company in Melbourne – signed up as a supporter of the Racism. It Stops with Me campaign shortly after the incident took place.

The company has since installed campaign posters across 800 buses in its fleet. It has also developed protocols so that drivers know how to respond to any racist incidences that occur in the future.

‘It is important that we let the public know that we do not condone this kind of behaviour. Signing on as a supporter of this new campaign is a timely way for us to state that, as a company, we will not tolerate racism.’

Andrew Cornwall, Ventura Managing Director


Our supporters in action: Multicultural Development Association

The Multicultural Development Association (MDA) is an independent, non-government organisation that settles newly-arrived refugees in Brisbane, Rockhampton and Toowoomba.

It has sought to involve all of its staff, clients and the community in the Racism. It Stops With Me campaign through activities including:

  • producing campaign cards for staff security pass lanyards, which feature a QR code for people to find out more about the campaign on the MDA website
  • inviting staff to make a personal pledge against racism with pledges shared on Facebook
  • partnering with the Queensland Anti-Discrimination Commission to deliver training for staff on racism and how to make complaints of racial discrimination, and
  • incorporating the campaign into the training sessions they deliver for newly-arrived refugees and asylum seekers.

In June 2013 MDA hosted a stall at the World Refugee Day Community Festival in Brisbane where they encouraged festival-goers to write their own personal anti-racism pledges. The photos of those who participated were added to MDA’s Facebook page. MDA has since held similar pledge events, including as part of Brisbane-North Melbourne game during the AFL’s multicultural round and other local festivals, and plan to hold more in future.

Starting the conversation

In the first year of the Strategy, we wanted to start a national conversation about racism and the impact it has on individuals and the broader community.

The Strategy and the public awareness campaign – Racism. It Stops with Me – were launched on 24 August 2012 at Federation Square, Melbourne.

Bringing together political, business, sports and community leaders, the event received a high level of media coverage and generated significant discussion on social media.

‘The AFL is proud to say that racism stops with us.’

Andrew Demetriou, Chief Executive Officer, AFL Australia

Since the launch, a number of events have been held to promote discussion about racism, its impacts on those it affects and the broader community, and how we can best prevent and respond to it.

In March 2013 we hosted a public forum at Parliament House in Canberra with the support of the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to mark the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

The forum - Not Just Black and White – featured the Hon Senator Penny Wong, Senator Michaelia Cash, Dr Tom Calma AO and 2013 Young Australian of the Year Akram Azimi.

Hosted by SBS World News Anchor, Janice Petersen, this panel of high profile Australians reflected on the issues of race and racism, culture, inclusion and diversity that both divide us and bring us together.

Communicating the message online

Racism. It Stops with Me has developed a strong online presence over the past year, with a user-friendly website attracting a large number of visitors. We also have a strong following on Twitter.

The website – – provides accessible information for individuals and organisations about the practical steps they can take to prevent racism and to counter it when it happens, as well as downloadable posters and other resources. It also acts as a clearinghouse for research about racism and effective strategies to address it, and features examples of good practice in addressing racism around the country.

‘(We) have incorporated your campaign into training for the UTAS Student Advice team. The bystander tips section is great!’

University of Tasmania

Our website received over 85,000 unique visits over the last 12 months.

We also encourage individual Australians to show their commitment to a racism-free Australia by posting their photo to the website and sharing it through their social media and community networks. More than 460 people have pledged their support by uploading their photo to the website so far.

We send regular email updates to our supporters which feature new developments, resources, anti-racism initiatives and upcoming events. The email updates are designed to inspire individuals and organisations to take action against racism in their daily lives.

‘When it seemed that so many Australians were racist, it has been very reassuring to know that there are also very many people who are ready to stand against racism. That has been invigorating and supportive.’

Individual campaign supporter


We have used Twitter to extend the reach of our campaign and promote new initiatives, resources and examples of good practice. During the year, we tweeted nearly 400 times and attracted well over 1600 followers.

Our hashtag – #itstopswithme – has been used by community, sports and political leaders to raise community awareness about the campaign and its key message: that we can all do something to stop racism.

Getting the message out through sport

In 2013 we partnered with Play by the Rules to produce a community service announcement (CSA) that promotes the message that racism has no place in sport. It features some of Australia’s best known sporting heroes:

  • Adam Goodes and Nick Maxwell (AFL)
  • Greg Inglis, Cameron Smith and Timana Tahu (NRL)
  • Peter Siddle (Cricket)
  • Archie Thompson (Football)
  • Sally Pearson (Athletics)
  • Liz Cambage (Basketball)
  • Mo'onia Gerrard (Netball)
  • Drew Mitchell (Rugby Union), and
  • the 2013 AFL Indigenous All-Stars.

Six 30-second Public Information Messages were also produced for radio.

The CSA was launched at the “Dreamtime at the G” game on 25 May 2013 and broadcast nationally until 4 August 2013. It has also been played on the big screen at several major sporting events.

There has been an overwhelming public response to the CSA, the release of which coincided with the well-publicised incident of racial abuse experienced by Sydney Swans player Adam Goodes. Since being posted on YouTube, it has been viewed over 240,000 times.

The radio spots have also received tremendous support from broadcasters, with 223 radio stations in 132 markets currently playing one or more of the public information messages. Thirty-eight radio stations across Australia’s major cities have broadcast over 2,300 spots.

Watch the CSA online at


Our supporters in action: Clubs Australia

Cubs Australia is the peak industry body representing the nation’s 6,500 licensed clubs.

Since signing on as a supporter in September 2012, Clubs Australia has undertaken a range of activities to promote the Racism. It Stops with Me campaign, including:

  • designing campaign coasters and distributing them to clubs across Australia
  • distributing campaign posters to clubs across Australia, and
  • featuring the campaign in the premiere issue of National Club Life magazine.

In July 2013, community clubs across Victoria championed the campaign by displaying posters, using the campaign coasters in their bars and bistros and playing the community service announcement on their screens.

Their activities received prominent media coverage from local television and newspapers, with club ambassadors talking about how racism had affected them personally and why they were committed to promoting the campaign’s message of tackling racism.

‘A club in Victoria is a place that is collectively owned by its members and where a wide cross-section of people come together to talk. It’s these social group situations where the reflection on what we can do to counter racism can be so effective.’

Shannon Gill, Clubs Australia spokesman


Equipping Australians to counter racism

The National Anti-Racism Strategy aims to build the capacity of individuals, organisations and communities to prevent racism and to respond safely when it occurs.

In the past year we developed tools and educational resources to support individuals and organisations in some of the priority areas identified in the Strategy: education, government service provision and workplaces.

What you say matters

In early 2013 we surveyed nearly 2,400 young people aged between 13 and 17 and found that nearly nine out of ten young people surveyed had experienced some kind of racism or seen it happen to someone else. 43% said they had experienced or witnessed racism at school and 33% said they had experienced or witnessed it on the internet.

In June 2013 we launched an online anti-racism resource for young people, ‘What You Say Matters’.

The resource was developed with funding from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs.

It features a hip-hop music video and easily accessible information about racism, how to prevent it from happening and, if it does, how to respond in ways that are safe for them and those around them.

We developed this information in response to the key questions asked about racism by the young people we surveyed:

  • What is racism?
  • Why are people racist?
  • Who experiences racism?
  • Where does racism happen?
  • Why is racism a problem?
  • What can you do?
  • What does the law say?

The video features hip-hop artist Brothablack and the students of James Meehan High School in Macquarie Fields, Sydney. The lyrics drew on the issues raised by the young people we surveyed and the scenes in the video were developed in collaboration with the students based on their real-life experiences.

The video has been viewed over 11,000 times on YouTube and received a very positive response.

Incredible music video with a powerful message congratulations on @brothablack and the students of James Meehan High #WhatYouSayMatters

Tweet, June 2013

We have shared this on our school's P&C page. Go KIDS!

Comment on Commission Facebook page

Everyone in the world should watch this.

Comment on What You Say Matters YouTube page

In 2013-14 we are planning to incorporate ‘What You Say Matters’ into resources being developed for schools in line with the national curriculum.

Anti-racism training for government service providers

In 2012 we received funding from the Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs to develop materials to address factors contributing to systemic racial discrimination in service delivery to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities.

We engaged the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission to develop and pilot a training resource which aims to strengthen the capacity of organisations to provide services to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people by building understanding of individual and systemic racism in service delivery and its impact on individuals and communities.

The training was informed by consultation with Aboriginal community controlled organisations and key submissions to the National Anti-Racism Strategy.
‘In essence, racism makes us sick – both in terms of the impact on victims and also the impact on society as it both diminishes society in general and creates a lack of social cohesion.’
Victorian Aboriginal Child Care Agency Co-op Ltd (VACCA)

The training was piloted in Melbourne and Port Augusta in April – May 2013. Feedback from the pilot sessions indicated the workshop had improved the capacity of participants to:

  • identify the different forms of racial discrimination
  • understand how racial discrimination can occur in service delivery
  • appreciate the impact of discrimination on affected communities
  • identify steps to prevent or address racial discrimination in service delivery, and
  • identify how racial diversity can be supported or advanced within organisations.

The training will be made available by FaHCSIA for use around Australia. In 2013-14 we will be exploring opportunities for delivering the training in different sectors.

Workplace cultural diversity health check

During 2012-13 we have been working in partnership with Diversity Council Australia and the Victorian Health Promotion Foundation (VicHealth) to develop a workplace cultural diversity assessment tool, or “health check”. The health check aims to assist employers to assess their organisation’s performance on cultural diversity, identify barriers to the recruitment and retention of culturally diverse employees, and address potential areas of discrimination.

The health check is based on a tool that was developed by VicHealth following a comprehensive review of international best practice in assessing workplace policy and practices in relation to diversity and discrimination.

We piloted the tool in June 2013 with a number of leading organisations including the Australian Council of Trade Unions, Commonwealth Bank, Telstra, Deloitte, Lend Lease, Mallesons, ABI Group, Australian Insurance Group, ANZ, Phillips and the Australian Red Cross.

The response to the pilot was positive, with most organisations reporting that the tool was a useful resource that would assist them to set cultural diversity priorities in future.

We anticipate launching the health check in early 2014.

‘Telstra is proud to be supporting this campaign ... We value the diversity of our people – it helps us connect with our customers and our communities, and fosters greater innovation and employee engagement.’

Tracey Gavegan, Group Managing Director Human Resources, Telstra


Our supporters in action: City of Greater Dandenong

The City of Greater Dandenong joined the Racism. It Stops with Me campaign in June 2013.

In support of the campaign, the City of Greater Dandenong has developed ‘Racism. Get Up. Speak Out.’, a project which invites local people to share stories that affirm and celebrate positive action against racism within the Greater Dandenong community.

The Racism. Get Up. Speak Out. project includes:

  • A series of community profiles published in the local newspaper the Dandenong Leader which highlight positive action people take when they witness or experience racist behaviour
  • Posters, postcards and banners distributed to the community with positive tips on Speaking Out against racism.
  • A short film following the stories of six Greater Dandenong residents and their personal experiences with racism which will be screened as part of the Greater Dandenong Film Festival in April 2014, and
  • “Forum theatre” - style drama workshops to engage young people and deepen their understanding of racism. This form of theatre encouraging audience members to put themselves in the characters’ shoes and discuss the issues presented. The theatre group will perform for local schools throughout Greater Dandenong.

‘Respect and support for diversity is one of Council’s key priorities’.

Angela Long, Mayor, City of Greater Dandenong


Building on the momentum

In 2013-14 we aim to build on the growing community support for the National Anti-Racism Strategy and the Racism. It Stops with Me campaign. We will continue to communicate a clear message that racism is unacceptable and to support prominent Australian leaders and organisations to take a public stand against racism.

We will continue to profile effective anti-racism initiatives by our supporters and others, and to work with priority sectors to build their capacity to identify, prevent and respond to racism and discrimination.

We will continue to build understanding of the harm caused by racism to individuals and communities, with a greater focus on cyber-racism and ‘casual racism’, and we will continue our efforts to support young people and bystanders to stand up to racism.

Our goal is to equip everyday Australians who experience or witness racism with strategies to respond safely, appropriately and effectively.

Timeline of activities

February 2011 – Australian Government committed to develop and implement a National Anti-Racism Strategy for Australia in The People of Australia – Australia’s Multicultural Policy.

March- May 2012 - Australian Human Rights Commission invited public input into the development of the Strategy. 23 public meetings are held in 17 locations across every state and territory, involving nearly 700 people. The Commission receives 200 submissions and over 1500 survey responses.

August 2012 – National Anti-Racism Strategy and ‘Racism. It Stops with Me’ campaign launched.

March 2013 – ‘Not Just Black and White’ event held at Parliament House in Canberra on the International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination.

March 2013 - Campaign passed 100 supporter organisations.

May 2013 – ‘Racism. It Stops with Me’ Community Service Announcement developed in partnership with Play by the Rules launched at Dreamtime at the G game.

June 2013 – ‘What you say matters’ anti-racism youth resources funded by FaHCSIA launched by National Children’s Commissioner Megan Mitchell.

July 2013 – Campaign reaches 150 supporter organisations.

[1] VicHealth, More than tolerance: Embracing diversity for health, 2007 at 47.
[2] Robert J Donovan and Rodney Vlais, A review of communication components of anti-racism/ anti-discrimination and pro-diversity social marketing/ public education campaigns, Vichealth, 2006 at 103.
[3] VicHealth, More than tolerance: Embracing diversity for health, 2007 at 50 and Pederson et al 2005 at 23 and 25. However, the report notes that creating empathy must be approached with care as different forms of empathy can lead to different motivations.
[4] Pederson et al, 2005 at 28.
[5] Babacan and Hollinsworth at 61.
[6] Pederson et al 2005 at page?
[7] VicHealth, More than tolerance: Embracing diversity for health, 2007 at 51.