two guys sitting on steps and laughing

Banter Vs Bullying

“Aussie banter is a key element of our social interactions, whether we’re in the classroom, office, on the sports field, or at the pub.”

Banter, we know it as friendly teasing between mates, but sometimes it can cross the line and start to resemble bullying.

Bullying, as defined by the Australian Human Rights Commission, is when someone repeatedly and intentionally uses words or actions to cause distress and harm to another person or group.

The line between banter and bullying can be thin, and it’s easy to unintentionally cross it without realising.

Here are some red flags to watch out for: if the banter becomes hurtful, highly personal, or targets someone’s insecurities, or if it’s done in front of a group rather than just between you and another person.

Here are some tips:

  1. Set your boundaries: Avoid jokes about sensitive topics like acne, hair, weight, or aspects of someone’s identity such as gender, race, sexuality, or religion. Even if the person jokes about these things themselves, it’s safer to steer clear.
  2. Watch your words: If a joke doesn’t land well, it’s best not to argue about the intent behind it. Saying “I was only joking” can sometimes be seen as a form of manipulation, known as gaslighting. Just apologize and move on.
  3. Be an active bystander: If you see someone taking a joke too far, gently point it out. Being an active bystander can make a big difference and help create a more respectful environment.

The rule of thumb is to always consider how you would feel if the joke was directed at you. Let’s all be a bit more mindful in our banter.

Check out this visual representation about being an active bystander – it’s pretty cool!”

We really like this little visual representation about being an active bystander – check it out!


Our team at Advocacy and Welfare offers confidential support to students! You can contact us here.
Student Success also has confidential counselling for students, you can find them here.
Lifeline is also a 24/7 hotline and you can call them on 13 11 14