Ad campaign safe for schools, not TV
Rebecca Urban, The Australian, 23 October 2017
The latest TV ad to be rolled out by the anti-same-sex marriage lobby has been deemed unacceptable for general viewing, with the commercial television body declaring passages attributed to the controversial Safe Schools sexuality education program can be aired late in the evening only.
Free TV has advised the Coalition For Marriage that its latest commercial warrants an ‘‘MA’’ classification due to “depictions of implied sexual activity and verbal sexual references” and can air only after 8.30pm, or 9.30pm during a sports program or a film classified as ‘‘G’’ or ‘‘PG’’.
The 30-second commercial, which is due to air tonight and features footage of Safe Schools founder Roz Ward speaking at a same-sex marriage rally, includes passages from the Safe School-endorsed OMG I’m Trans and OMG I’m Queer resources, which are available from the Victorian Department of Education and also appear on the websites of some South Australian schools.
The passages include “penis-in-vagina sex is not the only sex and certainly not the ultimate sex,” and “it’s a total lie that all guys have dicks, that all girls have vaginas”, which appear on the screen as text.
The Coalition for Marriage tried to point out to Free TV’s commercial advice arm that the passages had been lifted directly from learning materials approved by various state governments and taught to students from Years 7 upwards. However, it was told the organisation was independent of governments and under the definitions of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice the material was not appropriate for viewing by minors. Coalition for Marriage spokesman Lyle Shelton said he was disappointed by Free TV’s stance given the topical nature of the advertisement.
“It is beyond belief that taxpayer-funded LGBTIQ sex and gender education materials openly made available to students of all ages are given an MA rating for television,” Mr Shelton said.
“The issue of these materials, of parents’ rights, and the direct relationship with changing the Marriage Act are there for all to see, and parents should beware.”
While the Coalition for Marriage has been heavily criticised for arguing that legalising same-sex marriage would lead to an extensive rollout of Safe Schools-style “radical” sexuality and gender diversity education programs in schools, Mr Shelton said evidence was mounting to support the supposition.
“Just this week we have seen footage of the British Prime Minister saying that after redefining marriage they would be pressing ahead with LGBTIQ and gender education in all British schools,” he said, referring to comments Theresa May made last week.
“The idea that all of these issues are unrelated is actually laughable.”
Free TV, the industry body representing Australia’s commercial free-to-air television licensees, was embroiled in controversy earlier this year when an ad celebrating Father’s Day was deemed “political” ahead of the same-sex marriage plebiscite.
That was criticised as “political correctness gone mad” by politicians, but Free TV blamed the ad’s creator, not-for-profit group Dads4Kids, for the ad not running, saying they were asked to add an identification tag declaring political content and refused to do so.
Canberra Liberal claims Safe Schools program asks students to fantasise about same gender
ABC News, 24 August 2017
A Canberra Liberals politician says the Safe Schools program has “made schools harmful” by traumatising students, damaging their innocence and asking them to sexually fantasise about their own gender.
Opposition youth spokeswoman Elizabeth Kikkert made the comments after her colleague Andrew Wall tabled a petition in the ACT Legislative Assembly, pushing for the withdrawal of government support for the program. The petition had garnered nearly 1,000 signatures.
Ms Kikkert said she had spoken to Canberra children who left school crying after being taught material from the program, which was designed to support and reduce bullying rates among LGBTIQ students and staff.
She said the children were “so upset that they could not sleep for several nights” and that they “have refused to return to their classes because they feel unsafe there”.
She then claimed teachers were asking 13-year-old female students to fantasise about other girls.
“Requiring young people to experiment with sexual attraction of any kind has no place in our classrooms.”
Ms Kikkert said one student confessed the material made their “mind uncomfortable”.
She said the decision to establish a program that supports only sexually and gender diverse students was neglecting other “vulnerable” groups who were not adequately supported, including Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander students.
“There are many reasons why a student might be bullied at school,” she said.
“Some might be bullied because they do not seem smart, others might be bullied because they are too smart or socially awkward.
Labor and Greens slam petition
Both of the ACT’s other major political parties condemned the petition.
Education Minister Yvette Berry said she was deeply saddened and appalled by the move, though not surprised.
“I think Mr Wall should be ashamed of himself,” Ms Berry said.
“What this petition says, Madam Speaker, to LGBTIQ kids – [is] ‘there is something wrong with you, you are not welcome in our schools and you are not supported in our communities’.”
She said she was sure Mr Wall had been clear about his own sexuality his whole life but that tabling the petition showed he was not prepared to help children who had not been.
Greens MLA Caroline Le Couteur criticised both the contents and timing of the petition, given LGBTIQ people were already having their sexual orientation scrutinised by national debate as the same-sex marriage postal survey approaches.
“This should not be a political issue, it is a human issue,” Ms Le Couteur said.
“And this is what leads to the increased prevalence of mental health issues among these young people.”
Liberals Elizabeth Kikkert says children being ‘groomed’ by Safe Schools program
Canberra Times, 24 August 2017
Liberal politician Elizabeth Kikkert has accused teachers of “asking 13-year-old girls to fantasise about sexual intercourse” with another woman as part of the Safe Schools program.
Opposition education spokesman Andrew Wall tabled a petition in the ACT Legislative Assembly on Thursday with close to 1000 signatures calling on the ACT government to withdraw all current and future support of the program, which is designed to stop bullying of LGBTIQ students.
An ACT-specific program is being developed by Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT and will be rolled out over the next 18 months after a split from the national program following federal government changes.
Education minister Yvette Berry said Mr Wall should be “ashamed of himself” for bringing the petition forward.
“It says to LGBTIQ kids there’s something wrong with you, you’re not welcome to be included in our community,” Ms Berry said.
“We know LGBTIQ kids are more likely to harm themselves or take their own lives. I will not tolerate children in our schools who are LGBTIQ being intimidated, treated differently or excluded.
“I will stand by every LGBTIQ kid and the ACT government will not be changing its mind about Safe Schools.”
Greens MLA Carline Le Couteur questioned if those who had signed the petition had actually read through the resources, which are available online.
She said she could understand why parents wanted more clarification about the program’s aims but feared some were subscribing to “mistruths”.
But Mrs Kikkert accused the government of having “tunnel vision” about the Safe Schools program.
She said the program should also provide support for students who were the subject of bullying because of their race, religion or intellectual ability.
However Mrs Kikkert also said she’d heard cases of children who were unable to sleep at night because of materials contained in the program.
She said asking a “13-year-old girl to fantasise about being sexually attracted to another girl” could “accurately” be described as “grooming”.
“And then we let teachers ask a 13-year-old girl to fantasise about sexual intercourse. I have personally met with youth in Canberra who have gone home from their classes in tears so upset they couldn’t sleep for several nights all because of the resources from the Safe Schools program,” Mrs Kikkert said
“These are not the children of bigots or homophobes, in fact these students were given written permission by their parents to participate in discussions on Safe School material.
“I ask the Assembly to carefully consider the words of one student: ‘I have been told my whole life that people don’t have a right to touch my body in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable so why is it OK for a teacher to touch my mind in a way that makes me feel uncomfortable in the exact same way?'”
The ACT Education Directorate’s director of school improvement in Tuggeranong Kate Smith said she could not “verify” the experiences Mrs Kikkert described, but said the Safe Schools program was only one of a number of resources teachers accessed to help students feel included.
“I can say as a previous principal we really believe that every student has the right to feel safe and included, and everyone has the right to feel welcome regardless of their individual circumstances,” Ms Smith said.
“With the concerns about the Safe Schools program, it’s a resource, it’s not a curriculum, that school leaders can access to make sure they’re going about inclusion in an evidence-based way.”
The number of signatures on the petition means it will have to be referred to the standing committee on Education, Employment and Youth Affairs, on which Mrs Kikkert is deputy chair and Mr Wall is a member.
Labor backbencher Michael Pettersson chairs the committee and his colleague, passionate LGBTIQ rights campaigner Chris Steel, is the final member.
Mr Steel called on Mrs Kikkert to either take what she knew to the police or retract her statements.
“Her claim that teachers are grooming children for sex is deeply disturbing,” Mr Steel told the parliament.
“It is simply untenable to hang such serious matters out in the Assembly under privilege and not have them addressed.”
It is not the first time tempers have flared about the controversial program around the ACT Legislative Assembly recently.
Earlier this month a rally organised by NSW MP Fred Nile and Australian Christian Lobby leader Lyle Shelton to protest Safe Schools next door in Civic Square was drowned out by supporters of the program.
Chinese lobby group formed to oppose same-sex marriage and safe-schools
Rachel Baxendale, The Australian, 14 June 2017
The Australian Chinese community has founded a not-for-profit group to mobilise against same-sex marriage and the Safe Schools program.
Co-founder and Sydney GP Pansy Lai was behind a petition to the NSW government that last year gathered 17,500 signatures from Australian Chinese community members opposed to Safe Schools.
Dr Lai said she was overwhelmed by the response to her petition and had been inspired to form the Australian Chinese for Families Association, which launches this week. “I didn’t realise until I did the petition just how many people there are out there who are really concerned about Safe Schools,” she said.
“After we lodged the NSW petition, parents from other states got into contact with us, wanting to know what they can do to tell the government they don’t want their children being taught this inappropriate program.
“These are normal, everyday Australian Chinese parents and grandparents. There are no politicians among us.”
The group also opposes same-sex marriage.
Dr Lai said as a GP specialising in pediatrics, she opposed Safe Schools, which is designed to prevent the bullying of homosexual and transgender children, because it was “not scientific or evidence-based”.
“It’s really important to take into account that these children are still underage,” she said.
“This would be fine in a university program, but schoolchildren should be a politics-free zone,” she said.
“The other thing that is important is parental consent. If children are going to be taught something that goes against their parents’ values, parents need to be informed and given a choice.”
Dr Lai said she believed her group, which already has several hundred members, represented a large proportion of the Australian Chinese community.
“We’ve got people from mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Malaysia, Southeast Asia,” she said. “We definitely represent a large Chinese community, not only in NSW but nationwide.”
Dr Lai said although she was Christian, the organisation was “definitely not” a Christian organisation, and was open to members of all religions and none: “ACF is going to be a voice for many concerned Chinese Australians, and a platform for us to share resources and petitions for our community.”
The establishment of ACF comes as the Parliamentary Friendship Group for LGBTIQ Australians holds a morning tea in Canberra today to launch multicultural resources developed in consultation with Chinese, Arabic, Vietnamese, Hindi, Italian, Spanish, Greek and Korean-speaking communities.
Professional polling commissioned earlier this year by the anti same-sex marriage group Marriage Alliance found key ethnic communities overwhelmingly opposed same-sex marriage. Only 28 per cent of Asians living in Australia said they were strongly supportive of changing the Marriage Act; 75 per cent of Muslims and Hindus “strongly opposed” same-sex marriage.
Safe Schools booklet: LGBTI teens could seek gender-changing treatment without parents’ consent
James Dowling, Herald Sun, 16 May 2017
A BOOKLET connected to the controversial Safe Schools program discusses how teenagers may get gender-changing treatment without the knowledge of their parents.
Education Minister James Merlino was peppered with questions from Liberal MPs about the government’s Safe Schools program and gender-based teaching materials at a Budget Estimates hearing.
Liberal MP David Morris said two booklets — housed on the Education Department’s website had suggested students could get some cosmetic surgery or be considered a “mature minor.”
The Mornington MP asked at the Public Accounts and Estimate Committee Inquiry asked if Mr Merlino believed it appropriate teenagers received hormone treatment or gender surgeries without parental consent.
But Education Minister James Merlino said the aged-appropriate resources were just a guide to help teachers combat bullying of LGBTI students.
He said those booklets were not produced by the Education Department and were a guide for teachers signed on to the Safe School programs.
“In regards to medical issues is a matter for doctors and not educators. It is between young people, their doctor and their family.”
He said Safe Schools was not about “chest-binding” or gender-based teaching but just providing a safe environment for all students to learn.
Mr Merlino said the Safe Schools program was often just a pledge by schools to provide a safe place for gay and transgender students.
He said it was not part of the curriculum and that 70 per cent of government high schools had signed onto program.
He said the department provided resources, which were developed with the help of La Trobe University.
The “OMG I’m Trans” booklet says “cosmetic surgeries such as nose or chin reconstructions are not subject to special restrictions”.
The booklet goes on to add that under law “parental consent is critical to any medical treatment.”
The guide to Supporting a Student to Affirm or transition gender identity says students may be considered a mature minor and able to make decisions without parental consent.”
Earlier Mr Merlino also took a swipe at the federal government for the changes to the Gonski funding arrangement.
While Mr Merlino admitted there would be a “slight improvement” in funding he said it fell massively short of the original, but unfunded, first Gonski funding deal.
He said Victoria’s booming population meant that 90,000 school places needed to be found — 56,000 places from government schools.
He said the government needed to build 50 schools by 2021 at a rate of 10 a year.
Hotel hosting Christians targeted by ‘Safe Schools’ supporters
Tessa Akerman, The Australian, 10 May 2017
A Melbourne hotel has been caught in the crossfire of debate about the contentious Safe Schools program.
Arrow on Swanston, in Carlton, had agreed to host an Australian Christian Lobby event last night with speakers discussing Safe Schools and gender reassignment.
Before the event, the hotel received harassing phone calls and online threats that called the ACL a hate group and condemned the business for associating with them. The campaign comes after several Christian groups were forced to cancel their reservation at a Sydney hotel last year following threats to their meeting about same-sex marriage. About 30 people blocked the entrance to the hotel last night forcing police to escort attendees through their makeshift cordon.
The protest had started silently armed only with signs but turned into a war of words and accusations of assault.
“Jesus might love you but I don’t,” one protester shouted. “These people want us to die, they can get f..ked,” another said.
Australian Christian Lobby Victorian director Dan Flynn said they were hoping for a peaceful event, but had felt compelled to hire security guards and notify police because of the attention it had received. Mr Flynn said the meeting had been planned for about six weeks and the organisation expected more than 150 people to attend.
The seminar was due to feature the lobby’s director of research Elisabeth Taylor, and University of Western Sydney pediatrician John Whitehall.
The ACL website promoted the evening as Dr Whitehall and Dr Taylor helping the public “understand the consequences of teaching contested gender ideology to our kids”.
Transgender activist Regan Bleechmore said Dr Whitehall had advocated for the “wait and see” approach where treatment was withheld from children with gender dysphoria. “We will be there to remind the ACL: we are not your political football,” she said.
“We are human beings and we will not tolerate hate speech. The LGBTI political agenda wants people of all genders, sexes and sexualities to be fully accepted.”
School’s bid to ban Mother’s Day ‘blocked’
Rebecca Urban, The Australian, 9 May 2017
A Melbourne primary school that scrapped its Mother’s Day stall in the name of “diversity” and “inclusivity” is understood to have reversed the decision after a phone call from a concerned parent — Bill Shorten.
Moonee Ponds West Primary School was facing a backlash from parents shocked to read in this week’s newsletter that the stall — where children can spend their pocket money on small, token gifts for their mother or another “significant loved one” — would not be going ahead.
Instead, principal Jeff Lyon revealed, the school would celebrate UN International Day of Families. “I believe celebrating International Day of Families is a more inclusive way of celebrating the richness, diversity and complexity of living and loving as a family in the modern world,” Mr Lyon wrote. “The day highlights the importance of all caregivers in families, be it parents, grandparents or siblings and the importance of parental education for the welfare of children.”
The Opposition Leader, whose daughter goes to Moonee Ponds West, rang the school late yesterday. He said the decision had been reversed.
Asked to comment on the decision by the school, which is in Mr Shorten’s electorate, he described it as a “wonderful’’ institution. “I’ve spoken to the principal this evening and I understand there will be a Mother’s Day stall,” he said.
Samantha Hanna, who went to the school as a child and sends her children Isabela, Dante and Didier there, said parents had been surprised by the move.
“I remember as a kid lining up and agonising over whether to get mum the soap on the rope or the scented candle, and now I love getting these little gifts … from my own kids,” Ms Hanna said.
“I know that there are some single parent families at the school, and for those mums this is probably the only gift they will get from their children. I understand that some don’t have mums around but it is a good time to think about the importance of mums and dads and the role they play in our lives. I’m glad to hear it’s been reinstated.”
While some parents were dismayed about the initial decision, other politicians weighed in with concerns about the advent of political correctness in the school playground.
Victorian Education Minister James Merlino distanced himself from the move. “While these are local decisions, I would have thought Mother’s Day was a great opportunity to celebrate not just mums but other carers and family members,” he said. “I know I will be spoiling my mother this Mother’s Day.”
Opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling pointed the finger at the Andrews government for forcing “political correctness” on schools. “Mother’s Day is about celebrating the maternal figures in our lives, whether it is mum, grandma, an aunt or a female mentor, and honouring their contribution as women in society,” he said. “If it’s not banning the signing of traditional Christmas carols or reading classical fairy tales, (Premier) Daniel Andrews’ attack on our cultural traditions continues.”
Mr Lyon was not available for comment last night.
Read the fine print about Safe Schools
Mark Brown, The Examiner, 4 May 2017
Do parents have the primary responsibility for raising their children? Not according to the founders of the so-called ‘Safe Schools’ program. Safe Schools Coalition Program co-author Joel Radcliffe proclaimed, “parents don’t have the power to shut this down”. The truth is parents did have that power – because of it the NSW government has scrapped the program.
Tasmania will also discontinue the program. Concerningly though, Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff has hand-balled part of the ‘new’ replacement program to Working it Out, the same organisation currently running Safe Schools in Tasmania. What’s all the concern about? Its Marxist foundations.
Roz Ward, one of SSCP’s architects, is an avowed Marxist whose ideological goals within the SSCP have been widely exposed. Friedrich Engels, who co-founded Marxist theory, described a socialist society as one where: “The care and education of the children becomes a public affair.” He believed that, with no ties to family (and social/moral restrictions), girls will be free to “bring about the gradual growth of unconstrained sexual intercourse.”
Roz Ward agrees: “Marxism offers both the hope and the strategy needed to create a world where human sexuality, gender and how we relate to our bodies can blossom in extraordinary new and amazing ways that we can only try to imagine today”.
Part of the ‘strategy’ appears to be usurping parental authority: “Some students’…access to the internet [to view SSCP websites]…is monitored by their family so having access at school is really important”. Advice is also given to students on how to hide their browser history.
Of course LGBTI students need support in dealing with bullying at school – all students do. Yet Roz Ward freely admits on video that the SSCP is “not about stopping bullying” but about entrenching her views on sexuality and gender.
The content of the program is extremely contested. It includes: teaching against heteronormality (that heterosexuality is normal); teaching that gender has nothing to do with biology; encouraging sexual experimentation and for children to ‘come out’ and celebrate their true sexual and gender identity; online content originally offered links to adult-only shops; encouraging schools to allow cross-dressing, participation in homosexual marriage rallies, and for students to be able to use the toilet of choice. The list goes on.
The potential harm to children is real. Since the SSCP arrived in force there has been a huge escalation in children presenting with gender dysphoria (those that feel they were born with the wrong body).
Statistics show that a significant proportion of young people who feel they are LGBT will not be by adulthood. Ironically ‘safe schools’ is very quick to label and encourage children to lock into an identity – often with dangerous consequences. A 2016 Quadrant article by Paediatrician Dr John Whitehall highlighted the drastic effects hormonal intervention can have on the developing brains of children with gender dysphoria.
As parents we put a huge amount of trust in governments to scrutinise those inputting into the lives of our children through public education. The safe schools ‘experiment’ is a sad case of lack of due diligence on the part of government. My question is – have we learnt anything from it? If we don’t acknowledge the mistakes we are very likely to repeat them.
- Mark Brown is the Australian Christian Lobby Tasmanian director
An epidemic of transgender children is Safe Schools’ legacy
Miranda Devine, The Daily Telegraph, 16 April 2017
THREE years after it was launched by the Abbott government, the insidious Safe Schools program is to be axed in NSW and replaced with a real anti-bullying program.
Kudos to Rob Stokes, the only education minister in the nation honourable enough to tackle the sexual indoctrination program loathed by most parents and defended to the death by fanatical education bureaucrats.
“Bullying is a problem, whether you’re being bullied because you’re struggling with your sexuality or being fat or wearing glasses,” said an education source. “All this nonsense about gender fluidity has nothing to do with bullying.”
Funding has been allocated for a new program, expected to be ready by Term 3.
But incalculable damage already has been done by teaching children that gender and sexuality is fluid, that heterosexuality is not the norm, and that sex is arbitrarily assigned by a doctor at birth.
One consequence has been an epidemic in “transgender” children presenting to medical clinics since the advent of Safe Schools in June 2014.
Referrals for gender services to The Children’s Hospital at Westmead, have tripled. Melbourne Royal Children’s Hospital had 250 children last year presenting with “gender dysphoria”, distress experienced because you feel you were born the wrong sex.
The NSW Education Department reports a “spike” in transgender students, including a four-year old in kindergarten this year “who has identified as transgender”.
Official statistics are tightly held but, anecdotally: one public school in Sydney’s eastern suburbs has five transgender children, according to the relative of a student; a regional NSW government Safe School had five transgender students at the start of last year, according to a former teacher; a Safe School in outer Sydney had 5 or 6 “transgender” children last year in Year 8, all girls, according to a concerned teacher. “Safe Schools definitely had something to do with all this,” he says. “We are losing this fight… very badly”.
One teacher has spoken to parents who, “suddenly received a note from their 14-year-old daughter claiming that she is trans and wants to be called a new name.” But, after her parents moved her to a non-Safe School, “she is largely over the confusion now”.
Last year a 15-year-old child known as “Lincoln” had both breasts removed at a Sydney hospital with the permission of the Family Court in order to “transition” to the male sex. Born female, Lincoln decided in September, 2014, at age 13, to begin living as a boy and was prescribed puberty-blocking hormones the next year.
One of the few doctors willing to criticise the “fashion in child surgical abuse” is Dr John Whitehall, Professor of Paediatrics at Western Sydney University, who questions the “massive intrusion into the minds and bodies of children… It’s a collective madness.”
Most transgender children will, “grow out of it through puberty if parents do little more than gently watch and wait… The worst thing that can happen is the child is adopted as a poster child for the school.”
With teachers being trained by Safe Schools to think gender is whatever you feel like, “it’s not surprising we’re seeing more kids responding to this propaganda and parents getting on board. It’s very hard for professionals to speak out.”
It’s not just politically correctness silencing doctors. The prudent “watchful waiting” method is now illegal in Victoria. The new Health Complaints Act purports to crack down on dodgy health practitioners, but was driven by a media campaign against so-called “gay conversion therapy”, which, for gender ideologues, includes not encouraging a child’s sex change.
Megan, who works at a clinic in Sydney with young people, aged from 12 to early 20s, who have asked for referrals for sex changes, says: “Often, especially with females, there’s child abuse in their background, a lot of mental health issues and challenges. The system I work in does push that process. You’re not able to say this is a psychological issue. There’s this push to refer them out and get them processed to [send them to] Westmead children’s hospital and into that [sex change] process.”
It is a catastrophe for families.
One father, Gus, tells of “the most terrifying day of my life”, when he picked up his 16-year-old daughter from school, and “she didn’t know where she was, she wasn’t the full quid, she was just really confused… We went to the doctor [and] just out of the blue she said she was a boy in a girl’s body.”
It turned out “she was going through a psychotic episode. She was in hospital for two months… She’s just a normal girl now … It was all purely a mental health issue.”
He is angry “vulnerable people like my daughter are taken advantage of [to] go down a totally different track to where she’s ended up.”
The Turnbull government has promised not to continue Safe Schools once the original funding runs out June 30. But, despite requests from NSW for its removal, the website remains. Last year it was rebadged as the “Student Wellbeing” website in an attempt to disguise its original purpose, and a dozen new resources unrelated to gender or sexuality added.
But disturbing elements remain, including the document: “Supporting a Student to Affirm or Transition Gender Identity at School”, which allows teachers to decide whether parents should be told their child wants to swap genders.
“Consideration should be given to the age and maturity of the student and whether it would be appropriate to involve the students’ parent(s) or guardian(s) in each decision.”
How such a program could be inflicted on unsuspecting families defies belief. But bravo Stokes for turning back the tide.
Safe Schools’ anti-bully project to lose Tasmania funding
Rebecca Urban, The Australian, 18 April 2017
Tasmania will scrap support for the contentious Safe Schools program, opting to focus on a comprehensive anti-bullying scheme for the schoolyard.
Tasmania’s Education and Training Minister Jeremy Rockliff has confirmed that his government would not fund the program — which has so far been adopted by 22 Tasmanian schools — once federal funding stops mid-year.
“The Tasmanian government is committed to providing a safe and inclusive school environment to support student learning and wellbeing, which is why we have invested $3 million over four years as part of the Combating Bullying budget initiative,” Mr Rockliff said.
“It is up to each Tasmanian school to make their own decisions about the programs used in their school, and government schools are encouraged to use the Department of Education’s own program.
“Given the significant investment in our own anti-bullying initiative, the state government has no plans to take over funding for the federal program.”
Tasmania’s defection follows the weekend’s announcement from NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes that his government would introduce a broader anti-bullying scheme to replace Safe Schools, leaving support for the La Trobe University-developed program resting largely with the Labor-governed states.
Financial support for Safe Schools was a key part of West Australian Labor’s successful election campaign last month, while a spokeswoman for Queensland Education Minister Kate Jones said yesterday that there were no plans to ditch the program.
In South Australia, the government is weighing up whether to take over funding the program, in much the same way the Victorian Labor government has done.
“We see value in having a specific program to support schools to tackle bullying against LGBTI students,” said a spokeswoman for the SA Department of Education and Child Development. “We expect to make an announcement shortly about the future of the safe schools program.”
While Victoria has committed more than $2m to roll out the program to all state schools by the end of 2018, questions are being asked about the level of its commitment following the decision to sever ties with La Trobe and run Safe Schools directly from its own Education Department.
Previously vocal supporters of the program Premier Daniel Andrews and Education Minister James Merlino have lately left the job of defending it to departmental staff and media advisers. And following widespread criticism over Safe School’s promotion of contested gender ideology and sexual politics, the department has taken to describing the program as a “pledge” or a “policy” to create a safe and inclusive environment, with schools having discretion over how “this commitment is realised”.
Victoria’s opposition education spokesman Nick Wakeling said it was time for Mr Andrews to “admit he got it wrong on this discredited program”.
He said the Liberal Party would scrap the program if elected and replace it with a program “that teaches kids the importance of respecting people of all appearances, sexuality, gender, religion and ethnicity”.
“Daniel Andrews is very naive if he thinks school bullying is only confined to sexuality and doesn’t include appearance, religion, ethnicity or gender,” Mr Wakeling said.
A spokeswoman for Safe Schools Coalition Australia, which is convened by the Foundation for Young Australians, declined to comment on the NSW decision, other than to say the organisation remained committed to supporting LGBTI young people.
Additional reporting: Emily Ritchie, Jennine Khalik