Learn more about racism

Racism takes many forms includes prejudice, discrimination or hatred directed at someone because of their colour, ethnicity or national origin.

Racial prejudice

Racial prejudice refers to pre-formed negative judgement or attitudes towards people on the basis of physical appearance, culture or ethnic origin, real or supposed. An example of racial prejudice includes someone criticising a neighbourhood on the basis that people come from a specific ethnic group.

Racial discrimination

Racial discrimination usually refers to behaviour which disadvantages people on the basis of their colour, ethnicity or national origin, real or supposed. For example a recruiting manager deciding not to interview some job applicants because they studied overseas is a form of racial discrimination.

Racial hatred

Racial hatred (or vilification) is doing something in public based on the race, colour, national or ethnic origin of a person or group of people, which is likely to offend, insult, humiliate or intimidate. For example, someone writing offensive comments on a social media platform about people from a specific country.

People have racist attitudes for many reasons

A lot of views are shaped at a young age and inherited from family members. When these views are so deeply rooted that people are just not aware of them, it’s called unconscious bias. Some people may also blame other groups of people for complex problems in our community, particularly if they have limited knowledge about these complex problems. These views can be reinforced by inaccurate or inappropriate media coverage.

Institutional racism

Institutional racism, also known as systemic racism, is reflected in laws, regulations, and practice of a society or an organisation. Some cases are easy to identify and address, for example when people with identical jobs and experience levels but different national origins have different pay levels. Other cases are more complex and require a ‘whole system’ to work together. This is the case when an ad for a senior leadership position does not attract applications from a broad section of the community because people promoted through middle management do not come from a broad section of the community.

Racism has long-term impact

Racism results in data showing gaps between groups of people in many areas. It affects where people live, their educational achievements, their income, their health, and their interactions with the criminal justice system.

Regardless of what the reasons are, there is no excuse for racism. Racism is more than just beliefs, words and actions. As the Australian Human Rights Commission explains, racism includes all the barriers that prevent people from enjoying dignity and equality because of their race.

Find out how you would respond to racism through a short story by completing the Change Agent Survey