Where to Seek Support if You Experience Racism or Discrimination

Recent global events have highlighted the issues of discrimination and inequality that are prevalent in many places around the world. We want you to know that it is against the law to be discriminated against based on your ethnicity, language, skin colour or any other aspect of your race, and that there is support available if you, or someone you know, experiences any kind of racism or discrimination. It’s important that everyone is comfortable in their environment and feels safe to seek help when necessary. 

We have put together a range of support services you can utilise if you ever find yourself in this position, or need someone to speak to.

What is racism?

The Australian Human Rights Commission has helped explain race discrimination, or racism, with the following:

“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. Take racial name-calling and jokes. Or consider situations when people may be excluded from groups or activities because of where they come from.

Racism can be revealed through people’s actions as well as their attitudes. It can also be reflected in systems and institutions. But sometimes it may not be revealed at all. Not all racism is obvious. For example, someone may look through a list of job applicants and decide not to interview people with certain surnames.

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.”

Report it!

If you experience violence, abuse or other criminal behaviour, immediately contact emergency services by calling Triple Zero (000).

Otherwise, you can call 131 444 for police assistance outside of an emergency situation.

After any instance of racism that you have experienced, report it to the Australian Human Rights Commission online or call 1300 656 419 for more information.

State-specific contacts include:

If you have a legal issue, you can also seek legal support in your state. Visit the Community Legal Centres Australia website to find a community legal service near you, or check out the Inner Melbourne Community Legal Resource for more information on being treated unfairly.

Reporting the incident may be uncomfortable, but it is important to start building an official record of what has happened. 

If you’re at work, school or university

Your workplace and education provider will likely have policies in place for dealing with racial discrimination or harassment, so you should approach a senior member of staff or the relevant contact you have been supplied with to make a report.

You can then also report the incident to your state-based anti-discrimination commission (listed above) or the Australian Human Rights Commission, if you want to do so.

If you’re on public transport

You’re encouraged to report racist incidents to the body in charge of that specific space. So, if you have experienced something on public transport, contact the public transport authority for your city. 

Then, contact your state-based anti-discrimination commission (listed above) or the Australian Human Rights Commission to report the incident.

If you’re online

Most social media platforms will have methods in place to report, block or delete racist content. 

You can also report online racism to the Australian Human Rights Commission and to the Office of the eSafety Commissioner.

I want to speak to someone

If you require mental health support following a racist incident, there are a range of free services available to you that allow you to speak to a counsellor and seek advice.

What if I want to help others?

As global citizens, it’s important that we are all aware of discrimination and inequality in the world. One of the best things you can do to help is as simple as staying aware and educated; make sure you stay up-to-date with unbiased news media on current issues, and from there you will be able to decide how and where you can share your support.