The Speak Out Against Racism (SOAR) project is a major research study focused on understanding and addressing experiences and attitudes to racism and racial discrimination, and bystander responses to racism and racial discrimination in Australian schools.
SOAR consists of two components:
- SOAR survey – a population-representative survey (n = 4664) on the experiences, attitudes and intended behaviours of year 5–9 students in New South Wales (NSW) and Victorian government schools, and their teachers, in relation to racial discrimination, prosocial behaviour, bystander responses, health and wellbeing, and school connectedness.
- SOAR program – piloting and evaluation of a school-based bystander intervention program in six primary schools across NSW and Victoria to encourage students and teachers to act when they witness racism and racial discrimination.
This report presents findings of SOAR’s second component.
- Staff and students reported the SOAR program was engaging, effective, structured well and supported, and were enthusiastic about it being expanded to other schools.
- Staff and students felt the SOAR program raised teacher confidence to discuss and address racism, student peer prosocial norms and school climate, students’ racial literacy, awareness of racism, and knowledge and confidence to intervene proactively to address racism at school, as well as reduced racial discrimination at school.
- Student survey data showed statistical evidence of change over time in student prosocial skills and student perceptions of the teacher inter-ethnic climate for schools receiving the SOAR program compared with schools that did not receive it.
- Survey findings also provided no statistical evidence of harm in terms of increased racial discrimination or total mental health difficulties, which can be unintended consequences of anti-racism programs with children.