New role for Safe Schools author Joel Radcliffe
Rebecca Urban, The Australian, 17 February 2017
One of the key players in the Safe Schools program has been appointed to a senior Victorian Education and Training Department position to help to manage the rollout of its similarly contentious Respectful Relationships program.
Joel Radcliffe, a former Safe Schools Coalition Victoria co-ordinator who co-wrote its teaching guide with outspoken Marxist activist Roz Ward, was the subject of controversy himself last year when it emerged that he had boasted publicly that parents did not have the power to shut down the so-called anti-bullying program.
The revelation comes as senior Education Department staff yesterday distanced themselves from the “misunderstood” program, claiming that it was merely a policy and not part of the school curriculum.
Appearing before the Victorian parliament’s public accounts and estimates committee, department secretary Gill Callister described Safe Schools as “mainstream” and revealed that Ms Ward, the program’s founding manager, was free to reapply for her job.
The Andrews government is in the process of integrating Safe Schools into the department, recently advertising for a new manager on an annual salary of $146,622 a year, as well as three program officers.
The recruitment drive will take the cost of the government’s pledge to put the program into all schools to $2.2 million over the next two years.
Education Minister James Merlino announced that the government would sever ties with La Trobe University, which had managed the government-funded program since 2010, after a string of controversies, several involving Ms Ward.
The latest, in which Ms Ward was photographed harassing a bystander at an anti-Trump rally in November, appeared to be the final straw.
Mr Radcliffe, a former teacher, is understood to have joined the Education Department in recent weeks. When The Australian contacted him at his office yesterday, his voicemail message revealed his role to be project leader of Respectful Relationship for the Hume Moreland region of Melbourne’s north.
The department declined to comment on his appointment, with a spokesman saying “employee matters are confidential”. Mr Radcliffe did not return calls.
Despite its aim of reducing family violence, Respectful Relationships has attracted similar controversy to Safe Schools due to its reliance on gender theory and feminist ideology, teaching students about male privilege and that masculinity is responsible for family violence.
Unlike Safe Schools, which was targeted at Year 7 students upwards, Respectful Relationships education will begin at preschool level.
The opposition’s education spokesman, Nick Wakeling, who has called for Safe Schools to be scrapped, expressed concerns about Mr Radcliffe’s move into the department.