Katie Cherrington (she/her) is a primary school teacher with over ten years’ experience teaching in schools in rural and regional NSW. She grew up in Aotearoa New Zealand and settled in Australia in 2003. She currently lives on Awabakal Country, working for the NSW Department of Education as AntiRacism Education Advisor K-6 and Principal Policy Officer, Anti-Racism. Katie is actively involved in her union and has a particular interest in refugee and LGBTQ+ rights, antiracism, and social justice in education.
Antiracism interventions in Australian schools
Racism and racial bullying remain prevalent in Australian schools. The Speak Out Against Racism (SOAR) Project, conducted in government schools in NSW and Victoria in 2019, found that one-third of students experienced racial discrimination by their peers (31%) and within society (27%), and just over one in ten students (12%) reported racial incidents involving their teachers. At the same time, there is a growing recognition of the importance of building awareness of systemic racism and privilege to build support for antiracism more broadly.
Bystander anti-racism programs, especially during the formative years of young people, play a critical role in educating them to become engaged citizens who deeply value diversity, equity and inclusion in society. The AntiRacism in Action (ARiA) program, which we developed in collaboration with the NSW Department of Education, is specifically for students in Year 5 and 6 in NSW schools. The program included a co-designed curriculum with bystander antiracism activities, training videos and professional development training for teachers.
The Department’s evaluation of the program showed that teachers reported increased confidence in teaching about racism and antiracism after the training and using the curriculum resources. Nevertheless, we acknowledge that there is limited research on the impacts of antiracism training interventions, and even less on what effect they may have on addressing structural racism. To enhance this program, we are co-designing a curriculum centred around structural antiracism interventions and will conduct an evaluation of its long-term impact.