25 Jun, 2012 Last updated: 30 Mar, 2015

By Jerril Rechter, VicHealth CEO

VicHealth CEO Jerril Rechter

Racism on the sidelines is not just harming sport, it’s harming communities (Star’s ordeal sees country footy take on the bigots 16/17 June, P.5).

This is the second time in as many weeks a footy club has stood up and said it’s not on. It is just the type of leadership we need to see more of.

Unfortunately, bigoted people will continue to behave offensively at footy matches if this behaviour goes unchallenged.

VicHealth research shows being the target of racism can lead to anxiety and depression, so this is an important health issue which affects us all.

We are currently conducting research into the willingness of bystanders to intervene when they see racist behaviour to find out more about the role they can play to influence broader cultural change.

In the meantime, it’s up to the whole community to make this an issue. Bystanders are a considerable untapped source of promoting respect and harmony within the community.

It only takes one person to speak up to make someone think twice about their attitude.

- Jerril