Active Bystander Training

Program Overview

Polykala’s Active Bystander training enables participants to take safe and constructive action against discriminatory and harmful behaviour in the workplace and beyond.  Our training promotes workplace cultures of decentralised social leadership. That means staff (irrespective of position) are supported to stand up for a just, diverse, fair and inclusive workplace and community.

Too often social leadership in the form of starting difficult conversations or holding people to account is left to people affected by the discrimination itself. We can do much better. If all of us take responsibility for upholding inclusive and respectful social standards, then more of us can develop a sense of belonging. It can also unlock enormous workplace gains in productivity. Being an active bystander requires reflectivity, emotional intelligence, courage and a sense of humour. Making a difference is all of our business.

The training begins by exploring diversity more generally an an expression of human variation subject to the intersecting dynamics of power, privilege and preference. We reflect on what behaviour participants perceive is ‘okay’ and what is ‘not okay’ within the organisation with a view to explore viewpoint diversity and build empathy. We offer a set of tools and behavioural frameworks to overcome those barriers and thus change workplace norms. We do this using small group work and dynamic role play where participants learn and apply concepts in real-time.

Key Outcomes

  • 1. Gain awareness of the barriers to bystander intervention.
  • 2. Learn techniques to intervene with skill and finesse.
  • 3. Be able to engage in ‘difficult conversations’ with greater effectiveness.
  • 4. Recognise the potential for social leadership to create inclusive social norms.

Topics Covered

Intervening up, across and down

Principles of harm minimisation

Direct & indirect intervention techniques

Barriers to effective bystander action

"The session was very well run, and very engaging. They used a variety of techniques to encourage learning, and appeal to a range of different learning styles. Everyone who attended had a positive perception of the session. I would not hesitate to use Polykala again for more training."
Dr. Laura Aisbett - Community Development Officer, Mitchell Shire Council


Doing Diversity Differently

In October 2020, Dr Ananth Gopal (Director of Polykala), led a discussion among fellow Australian Adaptive Leadership practitioners at

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Glen Eira City Council

The Polykala Diversity & Inclusion Workshop was tailored to our organisation’s needs and is highly educational and fun. The

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Program Information

Active Bystander training

Book a session for your workplace or organisation
  • Delivery mode: Online
  • Workshop length: Half day / Full day
  • 2 expert facilitators
  • 10-25 participants
  • Participant evaluation

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