Bystander action fact sheet

Download the Bystander action fact sheet for printing (PDF File, 234.9 KB) .

What this fact sheet is about

A person witnessing verbal abuse and thinking: I'm just a bystander - Is this safe?This fact sheet is about positive steps that you can take if you are present when someone is being harassed, racially abused, or abused because they appear to be of a particular religion, sexuality or gender identity.

This could happen on public transport, in the street or anywhere in your community.

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Incidents in your community and online

Have you seen public acts of vilification, racist abuse, harassment or discrimination but been unsure about what you should do? Here are some positive actions you can take - but only if it is safe to do so. You should never put yourself or others at risk.

If you see a person harassing someone, speak up. Doing nothing might make the harasser think you support their actions.

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Say something

If you see a person harassing someone, speak up. Say something to make it clear you don't agree.

Keep calm and say something like:

  • He/she's okay. Why don't you just leave him/her alone?
  • Who else thinks this is NOT okay?
  • I DON'T think it is okay to say/do that, and most people agree with me.
  • Laws protect people from being vilified, bullied and harassed and you may have broken the law.

Doing nothing might make the harasser think you support their actions. Speaking up may help the victim to know they have support nearby.

Engage in a way that makes it clear you don't agree.


If you see something online that you think is discriminatory, vilifying or generally offensive, don't spread the inappropriate material. Engage in a way that makes it clear you don't agree.

Write something like:

I want to let you know that the email/post/comment you have written may be in breach of the law and I am going to report you to the owner of this website and the relevant authorities.

Social media sites have policies about the publication of material that bullies, intimidates, harasses, is hateful, threatening, unlawful or discriminatory. Report posts like this to the host website.

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Tips for bystanders

  • Say something.
  • Support the victim.
  • Record the incident.
  • Report the incident.

Record it

A person using their mobile phone to record an incidentIf it is safe to do so,  use your mobile phone to take video or photos of the incident. Vehicle registration plates or other identifying details may help to identify the perpetrators. If the  incident occurred in public, note the location details so CCTV footage can be obtained, if it is available.

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Support the victim

  • Ask the person if they are okay.
  • Offer to go with them to somewhere safe.
  • Help them contact a friend or family.
  • Tell them where they can get help.

 If anyone has been physically harmed you should seek medical assistance.

Give your details to the person subjected to the abuse or harassment so that you can be their witness, if needed.

Encourage the person subjected to the harassment or abuse to seek help from a community or an organisation which can assist in dealing with the effects of the incident.

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Report it

Whether or not you or the person subjected to the abuse or harassment want to lodge a formal complaint, you can contact the Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland to report incidents of public vilification or discrimination. Violence, physically threatening abuse or other hate crimes  should be reported to the police.

When reporting incidents, it is important to give as much information as possible about what happened, where it happened, when it happened and any witnesses present.


Emergency: dial triple zero (000)

Non-urgent police reporting: Policelink on 131 444

Report crime anonymously: Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000

Report vilification or discrimination: Anti-Discrimination Commission Queensland on 1300 130 670


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