Anti-Racism: What schools can do

Anti-Racism: What schools can do
Support document for the Anti-Racism Policy
Anti-racism education strategies
Under the Anti-Racism Policy schools are required to include anti-racism education strategies in their
school plans and report on their implementation in Annual School Reports. This support document
contains information on various strategies relevant to anti-racism education.
Some anti-racism education strategies, such as the nomination and training of Anti-Racism Contact
Officers (ARCOs), are mandated by the policy. Schools must also implement strategies that guarantee
appropriate responses to expressions of direct racism, such as incidents of racial abuse, harassment
and discrimination, and expressions of indirect racism, such as lack of recognition of cultural diversity
and culturally biased practices.
In addition, effective anti-racism education strategies must be developed to confront the race-based
generalisation, stereotype, bias, prejudice and discrimination that are the foundations of direct and
indirect racism.
Anti-racism education may involve whole-school strategies or strategies related to teaching and learning
in the classroom. Schools should develop appropriate strategies for both these areas.
Strategies in anti-racism education can target staff, students or the whole school community. They can
be as focussed as a single activity or as broad as a combination of activities implemented to promote
change in a number of areas.
Effective anti-racism education strategies need to comprehensively address the three dimensions of the
Anti-Racism Policy:
promoting acceptance of Australia’s cultural, linguistic and religious diversity
challenging prejudiced attitudes
ensuring that sanctions are applied against racist and discriminatory behaviours.
Schools should choose strategies that are appropriate to the school’s stage of policy implementation.
For some schools the planning and implementation of a whole-school anti-racism education project will
be appropriate while for others ensuring that sanctions are applied against inappropriate behaviour may
be a first step.
The following sections provide some suggestions for what schools can do to counter racism.
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ARCOs and complaints procedures
Every school must nominate an Anti-Racism Contact Officer (ARCO). This officer assists parents, staff
and students who have complaints regarding racism. The ARCO can talk to complainants about their
complaint, seek an informal resolution, if appropriate, assist them in writing the complaint and explain
how the complaint will be dealt with using the Complaint Handling Policy Guidelines.
Principals must ensure that the ARCO receives training to fulfil their role. Principals need also to ensure
that the identity and the role of the ARCO is known to students, parents and staff so that complaints can
be dealt with quickly and appropriately.
For more information on these strategies, see other support documents to the Anti-Racism Policy.
Planning and reporting
Countering racism is a complex task requiring a range of actions and interventions. Schools need to
collect data related to anti-racism education in order to determine what kinds of actions and
interventions are required. These data will assist schools in deciding what strategies can be put in place
and who would be the target of such strategies.
As a first step, schools can look for indicators of the influence of racism using an audit tool such as
Investigating the presence and effects of racism. To effectively counter racism, action needs to be taken
across the full range of a school’s activities. The Planning and evaluation guide available on the Racism.
No way! website provides schools with a framework through which they can identify in which areas
strategies need to be developed to counter racism.
Professional learning activities related to the collection and analysis of data, and the planning,
monitoring and evaluation of anti-racism education strategies are available on the Department’s intranet.
Schools must report in Annual School Reports on anti-racism education strategies implemented and
progress in implementing the policy. This reporting is to be included in the mandatory section,
Multicultural Education. Schools should collect evaluative data related to the implementation and
effectiveness of anti-racism education strategies to assist in their reporting.
School culture, practices and procedures
Schools do not have to write individual school anti-racism or complaints handling policies. The
Department’s Anti-Racism Policy and Complaints Handling Policy, with its accompanying guidelines,
apply to all schools. However, the creation of an implementation plan will assist schools to meet the
requirements of the Anti-Racism Policy.
Schools must have procedures in place that ensure timely and professional responses are made to
complaints about racism. For example, schools need to inform parents, staff and students of the identity
and role of the ARCO so they have an avenue through which to make complaints.
Schools should also examine other school practices and procedures to ensure they do not result in
discrimination of any particular group or individual.
Consultation with school community members regarding school practices and procedures can also
assist in increasing community confidence in the school.
Schools should encourage participation of all sections of the school community in the activities of the
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school. For example, practices used for the nomination and election of members to representative
bodies such as the Parents and Citizens Association and the Student Representative Council should be
examined to ensure they allow for inclusion of members of minority groups.
Using tools such as the Racism. No way! Planning and evaluation guide assists schools to determine if
their practices and procedures are consistent with the policy.
Professional learning
It is essential that all teaching and non-teaching staff can recognise racism and its detrimental effects on
the whole school community. They need to understand what they can do about racism and how to
support those members of the school community who may be subject to racism. Professional learning
opportunities need to be provided for all staff.
Advice regarding the delivery of professional learning, along with a range of professional learning
activities and presentations, is available for staff on the Department’s intranet.
Teaching strategies
In order to confront the race-based generalisation, stereotype, bias, prejudice and discrimination that are
the foundations of direct and indirect racism, teaching programs and teaching practice need to include
strategies that promote the acceptance of Australia’s cultural, linguistic and religious diversity and
explicitly teach about racism and how to deal with it.
For a range of teaching strategies, see
Engaging parents and community
The participation of parents and community in the life of the school is an essential component of antiracism education. It allows parents to be confident about the safety of their children. It fosters improved
community relations within and outside the school. It provides valuable resources for the school in
breaking down stereotypes and teaching about the cultural diversity of Australian society.
As a first step in effectively communicating with parents from language backgrounds other than English,
schools should use interpreting services that are available to them. The costs of these services are met
by the Department.
A large number of translated Departmental documents are available in up to 40 languages on the DET
Schools must provide information to parents and community members about their rights and
responsibilities in relation to racism, including information about the identity and role of the ARCO and
the availability of complaints handling procedures.
Consulting with parents and community members from minority groups can lead to their increased
involvement in the life of the school. Conducting group specific meetings in the first instance can lead to
the identification of useful community resources and skills and the inclusion of minority community
membership of representative bodies such as the P&C.
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Student engagement and initiatives
Students are quick to challenge injustices that they recognise in the school and the community. When
students learn about the Holocaust or Apartheid or the Stolen Generations they see how unjust racism
can be and are keen to act to challenge racist behaviour.
Students should be encouraged to identify and implement initiatives in anti-racism education that
engage the interest of other students. Students can form anti-racism action teams to coordinate antiracism initiatives, such as competitions and performances, that highlight for other students the
importance of anti-racism education.
Schools should make web-based resources available to students including:
Teaching activities on the Racism. No way! website
Teaching resources on the All Together Now website
Teaching activities on Australian Human Rights Commission website
Student activities on the Making Multicultural Australia website
Incorporating anti-racism education activities into peer support programs allows older students to
demonstrate to younger students that racism is not tolerated in the school. Strategies for what to do
when the younger students encountering racism can also be taught. Peer support programs can also be
used to advertise the identity and the role of the ARCO and the existence of complaints procedures.
Cooling Conflicts program
Cooling Conflicts involves the use of drama techniques to examine identifiable stages of conflict and to
offer participating students skills to deal with conflict. It involves conflict management rather than conflict
resolution. It is particularly effective in dealing with cross-cultural conflict.
The program uses the expertise of a school's trained and/or experienced drama teacher to teach a
senior drama class in a high school, or a Year 6 class in a primary school, the use of particular drama
Peer teaching forms the other part of the program. The students who have learnt about conflict then
teach their younger peers how to understand and manage conflict through drama.
For more information on the Cooling Conflicts program, see the Cooling Conflicts website.
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