Being an active bystander

Woman standing, staring straight at camera wearing a backpack and carrying books.

Everyone can take an active role in ending disrespectful behaviour, discrimination,  sexual, racial, gender-based harassment or family violence. It's OK to get involved, and sometimes just one action or comment can make the difference.

  • Be pro-active and a positive role model in your language and behaviour at all times
  • Speak out against jokes or comments that condone discrimination, harassment and violence
  • Show empathy and concern for the person who is being harassed or abused;
    • There may be an opportunity to ask, "Are you OK?" or "Is there something I can do?"
  • Take notice of what is going on around you.
    • Be aware of assumptions people may make about others and scenarios which may indicate intolerance or conflict
    • If you see problems coming up and where safe to do so, try to intervene as early as possible.
  • Take responsibility. Decide to be an active bystander. If you are unsure of the right move, ask others to help you work it out.
  • Take action. Respect everyone involved and keep your own safety in mind, and make sure you call for help if needed
  • Report incidents of harassment or abuse to a senior manager or to the Whistleblower Hotline
  • Take violence seriously. If you suspect that someone is being hurt or that there is a weapon on campus, call the police on 111.

Be a safe bystander

The It's not OK campaign has some good tips on intervening safely

University Security Services

Report any suspicious behaviour immediately, no matter how minor it appears, to University Security.

City campus: +64 9 373 7599 ext 85000 or 0800 373 7550
Tāmaki innovation campus: +64 9 373 7599 ext 85225
Grafton campus: +64 9 373 7599 ext 86081
Epsom campus: +64 9 373 7599 ext 44835

Read more about University Security Services

Where there is a real or imminent threat, call the police on 111.

Resources for active bystanders

These YouTube clips show why, how and when, you can intervene safely:

If you would like further training in responding to family violence or opportunities to volunteer, contact one of the expert organisations.