Positive bystanders

Bystanders are those people who witness an event such as discrimination and bullying. Bystanders have a choice: to stand by and watch; or to stand up and take steps to support the people involved. Supporting students to feel empowered to stand up as bystanders will help create a supportive and inclusive school culture.

Year Level



60 minutes


  • In class activity

SEL Competencies

  • Self-awareness
  • Social awareness
  • Relationship skills
  • Responsible decision-making

Learning Intention

Students learn the importance of bystanders taking action in reducing bullying.

Key Outcomes

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

  • identify activities that count as discrimination
  • understand the role of bystanders
  • identify actions that bystanders can take to support a person experiencing discrimination or bullying.
activity 01

Understanding bystanders 15 min

1. Explain to students that there are many situations where they may witness discrimination or bullying. Bystanders have a choice: to stand by, or to take action.

2. In pairs, ask students to discuss:

  • What activities count as discrimination (and/or bullying)? (e.g. unfair treatment or comments about topics including gender, disability, race, sexual orientation, religious belief)
  • Where might you see discrimination or bullying? (e.g. in the classroom, school yard, social media)
  • Who is present when discrimination occurs? (ans: the perpetrator/s, the person/people being targeted, and bystanders)
  • Who is a bystander? (ans: anyone who is a witness)
  • How can bystanders help when they witness discrimination? (e.g. explain why the action was wrong, befriend the person being discriminated against)

Debrief: Explain to students that bystanders play a key role in stopping discrimination, and that there are many different ways they can help.