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A white skin coloured hand holding a sign that says 'Society'.

When we look at broader social issues whether it is the injustices committed against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, or the wrongful detainment and treatment of refugees, regardless the role that racism plays couldn’t be clearer.

Trying to spark change and progress within these larger, often politicised spaces can seem daunting. Especially when conversations around policy seem like massive challenges and can make people feel like they can’t do anything to affect them.

However, there are still many tangible actions that you can take. These include:

Having conversations with our friends and family about these issues.

Following activists, people with lived experiences of racism, or people who are part of different communities on social media!

You can then get information about the challenges these communities are facing and how they’d like allies to support them first hand.

Sharing ways that people can meaningfully help and connect with communities on social media.

Boycotting brands that cause harm to certain groups.

Hosting movie/book clubs where you discuss works by people of colour.

Participate in mutual aid initiatives in your area.

Buying from local businesses run by people of colour.

“Paying the rent” and redistributing wealth to First Peoples by allocating a certain percentage of your pocket money/salary for their community.

Signing petitions, attending and organising actions, writing to or calling your local councils/representatives.

When fighting racism, we must remember that people of colour exist across all other communities as well. People of colour can be women, disabled, working class, LGBTQIA+ and all of the above!

Mutual aid is all about communities coming together, building networks and initiatives through which they can support one another in solidarity. "Mutual-aid systems operate under the notion that everyone has something to contribute, and everyone has something they need."


If you plan on organising and or participating in actions such as protests, it’s important to stay safe. Prepare what you will wear in case the situation becomes unsafe, and know your rights, which can differ based on the state you are in; more information on your rights can also be found here.

If you plan on writing to your local representatives, note that:

  • Letters are more likely to elicit a response; handwritten letters often get more attention.
  • A letter written in your own words will carry much more weight than a template - even if you feel that your writing skills aren’t up to scratch. 
  • Taking a firm stance on an issue doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be polite and courteous. Politicians and their staff are people too.
  • You should support your position with a rational argument.
  • The shorter, the better! Your letter should ask only 2 questions, be about one issue, and be no longer than one page. Politicians receive many letters, and concise letters make evading the question more difficult.
  • Your representative may give a wordy or evasive answer that doesn’t actually answer your questions. If so, write again and politely point that out.

If you plan on calling your representative:

  • You will be talking to a person in your representative’s office whose job is to record your views
  • Phone calls are usually quite brief! Most of the time, you:
    - Provide your name
    - Provide your postcode
    - Say that you are calling to “express your dissent/concern/opposition to” whatever issue you want to talk to your representative about!
  • Write out what you will say before you call (1-2 sentences)
  • If you call during an election year and are old enough to vote, add that you will reconsider your vote on the basis of their party’s policy on the issue you are calling about.

Petitions are also another way to garner support and demand for change not just within Australia. You can most easily find petitions on change.org, and otherwise on social media or by googling. You can create your own petition too! It’s important to remember with petition templates, you need to personalise and edit it, otherwise people won’t read them or count them

When taking action in society, consider how we can build solidarity between different groups, because when we achieve that, communities become stronger as we learn from and support one another.

Aboriginal & Torres Strait

Islander Justice

Since Europe’s invasion of Australia, grave injustices and genocide have and continue to be committed against First Nation’s people. Their right to self-determination, sovereignty, and status as the custodians of the land are all unrecognised.

Sovereignty was never ceded

Colonisation continues to cast a shadow over our society as paternalistic attitudes remain embedded within our institutions, and intergenerational trauma continues to impact many communities.

As the only Commonwealth country without a treaty with its First Nations peoples, much more progress can be made towards justice and reconciliation.

While much of the discourse surrounding allyship and the recognition of privilege may seem to revolve between white Australians and Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander peoples, other people of colour also have a role in pushing for change.

Experiencing racism does not exempt one from being a settler (people who are not Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander) that benefits from the system at the expense of First Nations communities. 

The Black Lives Matter movement in Australia is recent, but its underlying ideas are not. The movement, triggered by the murder of George Floyd in the US, stands in solidarity with the oppression of Aboriginal people, and specifically deaths in custody. But its broader demands of the dismantling of racist systems have been advocated for decades, even centuries.

To be a good ally, it’s crucial to recognise that First Nations voices (not allies) must be centred.

A major issue is that Australia continues to presume to know what’s best for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders despite failing to reflect their preferences or demands.

Importantly, we also need to think outside of our mostly westernised framework of thinking. Since colonisation, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders have been forced to assimilate to Western cultural values. However, the remainder of us fail to consider First Nations cultural perspectives.

For example, Native Title rights, the ability of First Nations people to access traditional lands and waters without possession, can be difficult to understand. However, it is only when we shift our worldview and engage with the deep spiritual significance of the land that we can serve as First Nations Allies.

It is only then that, for example, we can understand why the destruction of traditional First Nations sites such as that by Rio Tinto was so traumatic and damaging.

How to be a good Indigenous Ally provides an overview in becoming a good ally, and we strongly recommend Pathtoequality.com.au.

A white skin coloured hand holding a sign that says 'Be an Ally'.

As an ally, remember to be constantly mindful of the privilege you have.

Note that the best way to understand a culture is not to observe it from the fringes but to engage with it.

Listen to the voices of people and be sensitive to what is happening within the community.

Let Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people set the agenda; do not set it for them.

Raise awareness of the issues that they face by creating conversations beyond the classroom and within your own communities.

There’s a huge variety of issues addressed within the movement for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander justice, ranging from the disproportionate impact that the climate crisis can have on their community, to the way that high school history syllabi don’t sufficiently teach people about Blak history. Two prominent topics will be addressed here: the Uluru Statement From the Heart, and Transformative Justice.

Refugee Rights

The human rights of refugees are critical. These include the right to not be forced to return to the country they are fleeing with violence, or the right to not endure inhuman or degrading punishment.

Asylum Seeker

A person who has fled their own country and applied for protection as a refugee. Not every asylum seeker becomes a refugee, but every refugee starts out as an asylum seeker.


A person outside their own country who is unable or unwilling to return due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

The Problem is that the Australian Government:

  • Illegally detains people seeking asylum and refugees who come by a boat
  • Subjects people seeking asylum to mandatory detention which severely impacts their mental and physical health, with no release date
  • Suppresses challenging the legality of detention
  • Ignores international law that requires refugees to be integrated into the community with appropriate care

Some Recent Events:

  • Some refugees and people seeking asylum were given Bridging Visas or Community Detention. Bridging visas are only 6 month visas, and holders are not provided support for housing or any financial help. Community Detention is also punitive - people are not given working rights, study rights, and are subjected to curfews. 
  • Many adult asylum seekers have been subjected to prolonged and indefinite detention under Australia’s mandatory detention laws. There are also many people who came as children and have been locked up in detention indefinitely. 
  • Some asylum seekers were transferred to offshore detention facilities in other countries like Nauru and Papua New Guinea where they did not have access to Australia’s refugee status determination process. Offshore detention camps are still open, and some asylum seekers are still being processed offshore on Christmas Island.

Some asylum seekers were granted Temporary Protection Visas which only lasted for three years and prevented them from travelling to see family or bringing their family to Australia to join them. This left some refugees, including unaccompanied children, separated from their family for years, and exposed severely traumatised people to further uncertainty.

Australia’s Obligations:


Refugee Human Rights Protections Law

This would...

  • Give Australian tribunals and courts to have the power to consider whether an individual’s detention is arbitrary, unreasonable or unnecessary, allowing them to release people from detention
  • Mandate minimum standards for conditions and treatment of persons in Immigration detention
  • Better protect people at risk of torture or death if returned to their country of origin
  • Ensure that visa regulations and conditions permit access to appropriate health care, education, housing and work opportunities
  • Ensure that staff members of the Department of Immigration and detention service providers receive adequate human rights training

Ban Children being Kept in Detention

This would...

  • Prevent children from being held in closed immigration detention facilities on the mainland and Christmas Island

Immigration Detention Law

This would address the problem that… 

  • There is no law for the way people should be treated in immigration detention, leading to abuse and inhumane treatment
  • There are also refugees who are detained in Australia that came under the medevac legislation (meaning they need medical support), but have still not received this and are locked up
  • Some asylum seekers are given bridging visas that allow them to live in the community but without the right to work or receive Medicare, so they are dependent on support from charity.
  • There are insufficient legal guarantees to prevent the return of asylum seekers who fail to meet the definition of a refugee, but still face threats of torture and death in their country of origin


A Human Rights Act for Australia

This would...

  • Require government to carefully consider how decisions impact human rights.

    For example, parliament would need to consider whether a law requiring the mandatory detention of all ‘unlawful non-citizens’ could be justified despite its breaching of fundamental human rights
  • Make public servants respect human rights when making decisions and delivering services

    For example, when deciding whether an immigration detainee can see a medical specialist, the Department of Immigration would need to consider the right of people to access physical and mental health remedies
  • Foster a stronger human rights culture in Australia by promoting greater understanding and respect among all people in Australia. This could lead to many other ways the human rights of asylum seekers and refugees are better protected. 

    For example, enhanced protection of human rights in the Australian Constitution, repealing mandatory detention laws.

What Can You Do?

It’s great you want to act. And before some tangible actions you can take, one quick reminder! There is something important to keep in mind - centre the voices of people with lived experiences!

There are many freedom fighters, both detained and released who speak about their experiences. Amplifying these voices are important, whether on social media or in your conversations.

Learn More

Read, watch, and listen from the resources provided in Read and Learn. 
Get free training on how you can change attitudes to refugees in your community

Get to know asylum seekers and refugees

Welcoming new neighbours, getting to know people in the community makes them feel welcome, making their difficult transition to Australia much easier

Start the conversation

A possible initiative would be to get any students at your school to run The Refugee Challenge, and invite other schools to a refugee camp simulation that your school can run as a type of inter-school excursion. This ties in very nicely with any Stage 5 HSIE classes (in NSW) who are studying human rights or wellbeing.Invite a guest speaker to speak at your school. Hearing people’s lived experiences first hand can help break down barriers and build understanding.

Sign a petition or write in

A person outside their own country who is unable or unwilling to return due to a well-founded fear of being persecuted because of their race, religion, nationality, membership of a particular social group or political opinion.

Support organisations

Supporting/volunteering/donating to organisations that aid refugees or fight for refugee rights. When considering where to give money, think about whether the organisation is run by people with lived experience of seeking asylum, what kind of funding they currently receive, their track record of impact/transparency. Find a list of organisations here.

Organise or participate in protest

Where to find protests: 
Refugee Action Collective (VIC, QLD)
Refugee Solidarity Meanjin Refugee Action Coalition (NSW)
Australian Refugee Action Network Event Calendar NSW Rallies and Vigils
Facebook, twitter, etc

Multicultural Texts

Increasing the amount of multicultural texts and literature studied in NSW high schools is a powerful way to decolonise our thinking and adopt anti-racist attitudes.

Ask yourself how many times you've read a book in English that wasn't written by a 'dead white man'. Odds are, that number can be counted on one hand. The problem when the authors that are studied are just men, the perspectives they are able to represent are also limited to those of white characters, narratives, and concerns. Despite what can be the good intent of many white authors, the voices of people of colour can be excluded or wrongfully represented, silencing people of colour.

To correct for a lack of multicultural text studied, more texts that are studied or prescribed should be at least one of the following:

  • The author is a person of colour
  • Protagonist is a person of colour
  • Is translated from a foreign language to English


  • Sign the Petition to increase the amount of multicultural texts in the English syllabus.
  • Fill out this google form regarding the texts you have studied in high school

Diverse Language Education

Increasing diversity in Language education in Australian high schools will reduce racial biases by increasing intercultural competence. In the 2019 Youth Parliament program, a mock bill was successfully legislated endorsing this.


Representing being free; knowing that you have a voice, that you can do whatever you want in this world. Give voice to what you know to be true and do not be afraid of being disliked or exiled. By doing this, you will make your world around you a more beautiful place.

- Jessica Clarke / @Muthi.Tidda

We need to see increased funding for diverse language education as there is a shortage of teachers to fund a nation-wide program. Since May 2014, a national curriculum for Foreign Language education has been created, but it is only designed up to Year 10, and there are no concrete plans to make it readily accessible for all.

Education about First Nations languages connected to the Country we are on should be a part of all school curriculums.

Send an email to your local MP 

Use the following template to email your local representative about Foreign Language education. Remember to insert the relevant detail like their name and (optionally) your own. Petitions are 4 to 5 times more effective if they are personalised, so put in the effort to give your 'story' for why you want to see this change, and consider adding details like your postcode.

The Youth Parliament Bill: (relevant sections have been highlighted)

To: (Your MP’s Email Address)
Subject line: Increasing Foreign Language Education Funding

Hon (Insert name),

(Optional - My name is X). I wish to express my growing concern over the state and the nation’s lack of funding towards foreign language education.

Foreign language education is a critical component to our education as high school students - just as important as English or maths. Through learning foreign languages, students learn cultural competency which is increasingly important in a 21st century world. This also combats racism which we see far too often in our school communities. There are also countless numbers of economic benefits of being able to speak a foreign language in an increasingly globalised world.

Currently, however, there is a significant lack of funding towards foreign languages on both a state and a federal level. An increase would tackle the root cause, a shortage of qualified foreign language teachers in NSW. Funding towards foreign language education must increase. It is of absolute importance to us as high school students, and for future students to come. 

(Optional to include name)

That's the end of this kit!

But this doesn't cover all of anti-racism - it's merely a beginning. Take your learning, and now use it to help build a society that treats people of colour equally.

White skin coloured hand holding a sign that says 'SOCIETY'.
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