Conversations For Change – Speaking Out Against Disrespect Bystander Training

Conversations For Change – Speaking Out Against Disrespect Bystander Training

Lead Organisation

WA Centre for Rural Health


Community Respect and Equality, Geraldton

Region of Project

City of Greater Geraldton

Target Group

Whole of population

Funded by

Healthway Research Grant


Dr Sandra Thompson, Director / Professor of Rural Health, University of Western Australia

Project overview

Bystander Training to take pro-social action when witnessing sexism and disrespect in the workplace and in the community. This training is designed for organisations where Senior Managers actively support an organisational culture of respect and gender equality to prevent sexism and discrimination.

Duration of initiative

Ongoing commitment to primary prevention

Conversations for Change finishes June 2022


Evaluation is part of the project but we have no results available to share yet.

Project process

Organisations signed up to the Community Respect and Equality (CRE) Plan in Geraldton attended face to face training on being a pro-active bystander delivered by Our Watch in mid-2019, supported by a local trainer. Participants expressed support for the concept as a part of broader efforts to promote gender equality for organisations that have Senior Management support to address the whole organisational culture to support gender equality and prevent sexism and discrimination.

WACRH received a Healthway Research Intervention grant to develop both face to face and on-line Bystander Training and to research the degree that participants subsequently report taking bystander action (and the outcomes of any action taken) after 6 and 12 months. Training was developed based on the current best evidence, with advice from local organisations and VicHealth’s Gender Equality team. Training is now online on WACRH’s Moodle platform. An Organisational Readiness guide has been developed to support organisations prepare for Bystander Training.

A face-to-face option delivered by an in-house trainer, using PPTs based on the online resource, and supported by a Facilitator Manual and interactive activities, is available on
request from WACRH – phone (08) 9956 0200. The training is designed for members of organisations signed up to the CRE, with the expectation that these organisations have put in place policies and support for people who decide to take Bystander action against sexism and discrimination. In addition, many students and other individuals have now completed the training as it is on a public-facing website.

Project achievement and successes

As of early March 2021, over 350 people have completed the online training and a much smaller number have done the training in face-to-face mode. Two large organisations in Geraldton are planning to deliver the face-to-face training soon. Another large Geraldton organisation plans to make the online training an integral part of its induction training for all staff.

WACRH will survey those who agree to participate at 6 and 12 months after completing the training to find out about actual bystander actions they have taken. These results will be available in 2022/23. Data to date shows that the training is well-accepted. Participants report substantial improvements in their knowledge and skills around bystander action. Most of the participants to date have been female and under the age of 40years.

Issues and challenges during this project

Using the Moodle platform posed some challenges as it is set up for formal learning with assessments. The built-in features became an impediment to the training mode we wanted. Using the H4P Moodle add-on largely solved that problem.

Advice for others doing this type of work

There is strong interest from some organisations in using the bystander training in staff inductions. Don’t stop at training. Education on its own is insufficient to change behaviour. Be sure to align training with other activities and processes across the organisation. Training alone isn’t the answer. The evidence from VicHealth’s pilot is that unless training occurs within an organisational culture that supports gender equality, especially within the senior management, training individuals does not result in any increase in bystander behaviour or change in discriminatory attitudes. Furthermore, it can set individuals up to take bystander action, only to be left unsupported by their manager/s. Research in Victoria in 2012 showed that organisational support was one of the major factors that determined whether some people were willing to act or not. Additional effort is needed to engage men in bystander training. Other agencies can utilise this online training – there is no need to reinvent the wheel.


Visit WACRH’s Moodle site.

View the organisational preparation guide.
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