Human Resources

Racial Harassment

Further information

  • Conduct in the workplace
  • Equity and Diversity Advisers

Racial harassment is any verbal, physical or written act which is based on a person's race, ethnic background, nationality, language or cultural background, and is unwanted, unacceptable and offensive to the person.

Examples of racial harassment include:

  • Physical: Intimidating gestures, physical violence or assault because of a person's race or ethnicity, or threats of the above.
  • Verbal: Derogatory remarks about a person's skin colour or appearance, unwelcome remarks about a person's culture observances, racist jokes and 'needling'
  • Non-verbal: Racist graffiti, defacing notices or posters, negative stereotyping of particular ethnic groups, written threats of a racial nature

Legal position

The Western Australian Equal Opportunity Act makes racial harassment in employment and education unlawful and provides for the Commissioner for Equal Opportunity to resolve complaints through conciliation.

It is also unlawful to racially harass a person because of the race, ethnic background, language or culture background of a relative of that person.

The University's commitment

UWA is committed to maintaining a work and study environment which is free from racial harassment. Racial harassment conflicts with the University's Equal Opportunity Policy and with the rights of staff and students to receive fair treatment.

Equal Opportunity Policy statement

The University has adopted the following equal opportunity policy statement:

The University of Western Australia is committed to a policy of equal opportunity in employment and education. The University accepts that it has a responsibility to create an environment free from discrimination, and to ensure that the principle of merit operates unhindered by regard to irrelevant criteria. To this end the University will act to ensure that its structures are free from direct or indirect discrimination on the grounds of sex, marital status or pregnancy, race, age, sexual preference, religious or political beliefs, impairment, family responsibility or family status (Senate, October 1993).


All members of the University community, both staff and students are responsible for maintaining non-discriminatory and tolerant behaviour, so that the campus provides a welcoming atmosphere for all members and visitors.

Everyone can contribute

Everyone can contribute to eradicating racial harassment. Depending on the circumstances you can:

  • speak up: make it clear that you find such behaviour unacceptable
  • offer support to people who are being harassed
  • promote mutual respect between individuals, whether members of staff or students
  • encourage work and study environment in which cultural diversity is valued
  • openly support the University's policies on racial harassment and equal opportunity
  • circulate information, if you are a supervisor, to staff and encourage attendance at cross-cultural training programs

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Resources and programs

A variety of resources and programs of support are available within the University:


The University has established procedures to assist any staff member or student who may have experienced racial harassment. No action will be taken unless requested by the complainant and at all stages confidentiality will be preserved.

Anyone concerned about racial harassment should approach an Equity and Diversity Adviser, located within each faculty, central administration and the Guild. Equity and Diversity Advisers will provide assistance and support as well as information on the University's policy, relevant legislation and options available to deal with the problem.

Further information is also available by contacting the Equal Opportunity Commission, your Union, the UWA Guild and the Postgraduate Students Association.

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