Racism and human rights

Year level

Middle Secondary

Curriculum links

Links to the Australian Curriculum

Learning outcomes

For the teacher


Research topic

Investigate an issue of racism and/or discrimination in relation to the law. Consider ways in which individuals can help to change societal attitudes.

Racism is a community concern. While you will have to do some research on your own, cooperating with other students will help you to develop your views on the issue. Divide up the research and activities and get others involved!


Racism comes in many forms, but its outcome is the same. It can make those who are its victims feel intimidated, angry, unwelcome and unworthy. In its extreme form, it can lead whole communities to persecute others, and to be indifferent to their suffering.

In 1948, the United Nations adopted the Declaration of Human Rights, which states that all people are entitled to freedom, dignity and equality of treatment without regard to their race, religion and colour. In 1965 the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All forms of Racial Discrimination was adopted and ratified by Australia in 1975, when the Commonwealth Parliament passed the Racial Discrimination Act.

In this unit you will be asked to formulate your own definition of racism, compare it to a legal definition, and apply it in your investigation of an event in which racism is considered to have been a key factor. You will be asked to consider what you can do to work towards the eradication of racism in your community.

Overall aim

After working through this unit you will have learned about racism and the law in Australia, and about what you can do to inform yourself and others about racist behaviour. You will have researched a range of articles and opinions on racism and its effects, and you will have analysed various points of view and developed your own perspective on racism and its effects. In investigating this topic you will also become aware of your own values and feelings, by considering arguments from someone else’s position, and understanding how racism might harm others. You will also have to consider the opinions of others, even when you disagree with them, and help everyone to arrive at new understandings of racism and its effects.

Focus question

What is racism and how can I help to overcome racism in my community?


In your investigation you will consider your views on racism, and the opinions of others in your class. You will examine the law in Australia in regards to racism, and investigate an incident which occurred at Cronulla Beach in 2005, in which gangs of young people clashed in what was later considered to be a racially motivated series of incidents. You will examine the causes of this event, and its outcomes, and be asked to offer different ways in which communities can resist racism.

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