Indians join Chinese concerned about Safe Schools rollout
The Australian, August 25, 2016
A push by Sydney’s Chinese community to dump the Safe Schools program from NSW schools is gaining broader support with Victorian ethnic leaders also hearing concerns about the controversial program.
The NSW parliament will debate the program’s future next month after a petition with more than 17,000 signatures was tabled by Liberal MP Damien Tudehope this week on behalf of the Australian-Chinese community.
Confederation of Indian Australian Associations chair Vasan Srinivasan said many within Melbourne’s large Indian population were similarly troubled by the program’s presence in Victoria, where Premier Daniel Andrews has taken steps to protect it and branded critics as “bigots”.
“We do believe that should be stopped,” Mr Srinivasan said. “That’s the majority of community feeling.
“It should not be given that platform in the school lessons, the majority of Indians feel … school is not an appropriate place to bring this subject up.”
Chinese Association of Victoria president Ka Sing Chua said some in his community were also worried about it, particularly newer migrants.
“Sometimes they are a bit more conservative,” he said.
The Andrews government has been a vocal supporter of Safe Schools, making Victoria the only state planning to continue with the unamended version of the program — which includes homosexual role-play and asking students to consider gender as a fluid concept — following a review that prompted changes to the federally funded course.
The state Opposition has committed to axing it for a more general anti-bullying program, with education spokesman Nick Wakeling saying disquiet among ethnic communities was a contributing factor.
“Labor MPs will ignore this issue at their own peril,” he said.
“Ultimately they will need to explain to parents in their community why they as a Labor government know better what’s in the interest of the child when it comes to this issue.”
The Andrews government has pledged funding to expand the program to all state secondary schools.