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What is it?

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Racism stems from the unknown.

It’s easy to criticize what is foreign to us (because we can let our imagination run wild without knowing that what we are being told or what we hear is wrong) and at the same time, this element of the unknown can be used to create fear amongst whole groups of people, and cause them to see other ethnic groups as a threat to what they see as ‘normal’ and ‘stable’.

The Human Rights Act 1993 also says it is against the law to discriminate or treat someone unfairly based on their…

  • sex
  • marital status (whether they are single, married, divorced or in a de facto relationship)
  • religious beliefs
  • skin colour and race
  • their ethnicity or nationality
  • disabilities, physical illnesses, and mental health problems
  • age
  • political opinions
  • employment status (like being unemployed or on a benefit)
  • family (like who their family members are including having kids)
  • sexual orientation (being straight, gay, lesbian or bisexual) 
  • This act considers the rights of people to be free of discrimination in many different areas of life including your work, training institutes, and that provide goods and services – plus many more.

Why does being on the receiving end of racism suck?

  • It can make you feel insecure about your identity and who you are.
  • It doesn’t make much sense to be picked on for something that you should be proud of- if we all looked and acted the same, how boring would the world be?!
  • It’s confusing! Especially if it comes out of nowhere.
  • It’s personal- no one likes to be taken at face value and stereotyped.
  • It implies that the person making fun of you thinks they are superior because of their appearance, which is something they had nothing to do with!

How do you know if you’re being discriminated against?

•If you are feeling really judged, if there are comments, jokes or they assume certain things about you because of any of the above characteristics or if there are offensive, repeated and unwanted behaviours of a sexual or racist nature, then chances are, you are being discriminated against. 


How can we combat racism?

What to do or someone you know think you might be discriminated against

  • Don’t just let it be. The best thing to do is to contact the Human Rights Commission and just talk about it to get clear about what your options are. They will let you know what the best thing is to do. You can do this by calling 0800 496 877 or emailing them at

  • Get support for yourself. Talk to someone you trust about what is going on. Even if you are unsure it’s considered discrimination, if it is making you feel bad, it’s best to talk it over.

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