NEST Social Code

The NEST Social Code of Conduct

NEST is a simple social agreement between a group of individuals who want to create a shared social space with clear guidelines on how everyone should treat others and expect to be treated.

Signing up to the NEST Social Code of Conduct ("The Code") below means that your group wants to create a safe, inclusive, diverse and consensual environment where you can relax, have a good time, and enjoy yourself without worry or hassle.

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 The Code

  • I agree that everyone has the right to enjoy themselves safely and consensually in a space free from all forms of discrimination, bullying, harassment or judgement. Examples of unwelcome behaviour >

  • I agree to treat others respectfully, to act responsibly and to be held accountable for my own behaviour, regardless of intoxication. I acknowledge that being under the influence of intoxicating substances is never an excuse to break The Code.

  • I understand that my words and actions may have (unintended) consequences. I respect another person’s right to identify my behaviour as unwelcome, regardless of my intentions. I agree to stop doing anything that is identified as unwelcome, if asked to do so.

  • I understand that everyone is responsible for ensuring a positive environment, including me. I acknowledge that fear of “spoiling the vibe” is not an excuse for inaction, as any behaviour that warrants intervention has already spoiled the vibe for someone. I agree to assist (or find someone who can assist) anyone who is subjected to unwelcome behaviours.

  • I agree to prioritise marginalized people’s safety over privileged people’s comfort. This means that I understand unconscious bias and power imbalances and will take these into account with regard to complaints (and if necessary, challenge counter-complaints that ignore them).

DO:

  • Feel free to let your hair down

  • Think before you speak

  • Communicate & respect boundaries

  • Respect each other

  • Help out when you can

DON'T:

  • Assume ANYTHING

  • Lose control of your faculties

  • Let things slide

  • Take things personally

The Long Version

DO

Feel free to let your hair down

You should feel free to wear whatever you want, dance like a lunatic, eat 4 pieces of birthday cake, or cuddle with your partner, without fear of judgement or harassment from anyone. You shouldn't have to worry about what other people think about your body size or politics, be afraid of getting hassled with unwanted sexual attention, or deal with offensive comments about your abilities, gender, race or sexuality. You should feel safe and supported by the NEST Code, so you can check your worries at the door and party like it's 1999.

Think before you speak

Even if you have an unspoken agreement that using certain language is OK amongst your inner circle of friends, think twice about how your words might feel to someone who overhears them. Also remember that just because someone isn't a member of whatever group you're joking/commenting about, doesn't mean they won't find it offensive. It's also entirely possible that one/some/all of your friends don't really like using that language, but they keep doing it because they have been too embarrassed to say anything or didn't want to make anyone in your group feel bad.

Communicate & respect boundaries

No one can define your boundaries except you, so speak up. If someone makes you uncomfortable, for ANY reason, then you should let them know, either directly or through an intermediary. That includes touching without asking, saying something that offends you, or even just looking at you in a way you don’t like. Be nice, but be firm. 

If you’re unsure if something is OK, ask first. Even if you're picking up signals that it's OK, it never hurts to ask anyway.

Unless you get a clearly positive response such as "yes please" then say "no worries" and drop it (or move away if the person seems uncomfortable). Many people find it difficult to say the word "no", so look out for the many subtle ways of saying no, such as “Maybe later”, “I like you but”, “I’m not sure”, “You’ve/I’ve been drinking” – or even avoiding the question entirely with a nervous laugh or changing the subject. If someone looks uncertain, makes an excuse, or says anything that is not an enthusiastic "yes", take their uncertainty as a no.

Respect each other

Being respectful towards each other means that we can build an atmosphere of trust. Even if someone holds different beliefs, looks or acts differently, or has a different understanding of what having a good time means, they have just as much a right to their perspective as you do to yours. Sometimes the best sign of respect is to simply leave someone alone.

If you do make a social misstep, apologise. If someone isn't showing you respect, remember that keeping a respectful manner in a situation where someone is disrespecting you might be the best way to defuse the situation.

Help out when you can

If you sense that something isn't right or see that someone could use a hand negotiating a tricky situation, step up and support them. It's not always easy to ask for help, so try to recognise the signs that someone is in a situation they'd rather not be in. If you're not sure, then ask them. Helping out could be as simple as changing the focus of the conversation, inserting yourself between two people, or finding a discreet way to get them away from the other person – or taking a more direct action if asked to. And if someone does ask you for help but you feel you're not in a position or mindset to help them, work with them to find someone who can.

DON'T

Don't assume ANYTHING

Many awkward social situations arise because one person misinterpreted another person's words or body language. Don't assume that someone's cheeky smile, low-cut blouse or tight shorts are an invitation to sexy talk or intimate contact. And if you're flirting with someone, don't assume that they know it, or that they're open to it. The difference between flirtation and creepiness or harassment is context and invitation, so make sure you understand the circumstances and are reading the cues correctly.

We live in times when things aren't always what they seem. Just because someone looks or acts a certain way, don't make assumptions about their gender, sexuality, nationality/race, or ability/disability. If you want to open a dialogue about these things with them, do so in a respectful way. If they don't want to talk about it, respect their right not to.

Just because something is OK with one of your friends, doesn't mean it's OK with all of them. Everyone's social boundaries are different, so check with the person before you initiate any kind of social contact. And if they say no, just drop it. It doesn't necessarily mean they don't like you, it just means that your social relationship is different from what you might have wanted it to be right now.

Don't lose control of your faculties

If you get so wasted that you lose control, it's not going to be fun for anyone. Know your limits, and stick to them. It's easy to say "just one more" so if you have a Party Pal who can help keep things in check, ask them to help you stay within your own safe boundaries. No one wants to clean up your vomit or have to pour you into a cab at 4am.

Don't let things slide

Historically, we've all let a lot of seemingly small (and perhaps not so small) things slide at social gatherings because we didn't want to rock the boat, or didn't feel empowered to do something to change things. The bystander culture has given implied acceptance to lots of things we'd rather not have in our social lives, so we all need to step up to tackle these things moving forward, in a sensitive manner. 

If something happens to you, don't let it slide just because you think "I'm strong, I can handle this, it's not a big deal." By doing this, you open the door for the person to do it again, maybe next time to someone who's not as strong as you. If you see something happening to someone else, don't just assume someone else will deal with it, that it's not your place to step in – most of the time, it won't be dealt with, and you've just enabled something that you and your friends all know is wrong. The context of NEST should be about helping your social group address these kinds of scenarios in a non-confrontational way now, so they don't happen anymore in the future. 

Think about it: we used to think that smoking was cool, but now we know better. We can do the same with these social behaviours. Read through our How to Prepare tips so you're ready if it happens. And since the whole point of NEST is to ensure lots of other people are looking out for you, call for backup if you don't feel safe addressing something yourself.

Don't take things personally

If someone doesn't give consent or doesn't want to interact with you in the way you had hoped, don't take it as a threat to your sense of self worth, masculinity/femininity or attractiveness. All it means is "different strokes for different folks". And if someone lets you know that something you've done is not OK with the group, then it doesn't necessarily mean that they're not your friend and they don't want you around anymore. It does mean that you need to adjust your behaviour or whatever method is suggested to you as a means of making things right. But if someone does tell you that they don’t want you around because of your unwelcome behaviour, then you should respect that.

We all fell off our bikes sometimes when learning to ride; we can certainly expect to make mistakes and learn from them in social situations. These kinds of knocks and scrapes are part of the process of learning how to get along better in today's world.


This page presents our version of the social code that we have developed for our own social circle. Feel free to borrow, adapt, remix or amend this in whatever way you need to make it suitable for your own group. If you think the above does a good job of what you need, feel free to link to this page or this website in your social invitations.

Questions?