NSW Safe Schools ‘harassed’ into hiding: youth foundation
The Australian, July 16, 2016.
NSW has become the second state to pull its schools from the public register of members of the contentious Safe Schools anti-bullying program.
The Weekend Australian can reveal that the names of the NSW schools that are members of the Safe Schools Coalition Australia, convened by the Foundation for Young Australians, were removed from the program’s official website last Friday.
A spokeswoman for the NSW Education Department said the list had been pulled because inaccuracies had been identified. But Foundation for Young Australians development and external relations director Bronwyn Lee said it was due to harassment.
“The decision was made for NSW schools to no longer be publicly listed on the SSCA website due to harassment experienced by some schools in NSW,” Ms Lee said. “This was put into effect on Friday 8th July 2016.”
A department spokeswoman said: “In March 2016 the NSW Department of Education adopted the Australian government’s recommendations for Safe Schools. Principals have been supported to transition to the changed requirements.”
“The department recently became aware of a number of inaccuracies in the list published on the Safe Schools website. As a result, the list is now not publicly available.”
Informed of Ms Lee’s statement regarding harassment, the Education Department spokeswoman said: “As per the department’s previous response, the list was removed as it was inaccurate.”
Queensland member schools have not been publicly identified for months after some institutions received hate calls.
In Queensland, the Safe Schools program is not part of the curriculum, but the resources are available to principals on an ad-hoc basis if necessary.
There are currently 545 member schools across Australia in all jurisdictions, apart from the Northern Territory. On the Safe Schools website, it says the program is coming to the NT “soon”.
Of NSW and Queensland, the website says: “School principals decide how they promote their work with external service providers. If you would like to find out if your school is working with the Safe Schools Coalition please contact your school administration office.”
Early yesterday afternoon, the website said there were 411 member schools, a drop of more than 100 since last month. The number was changed back to 545 after The Weekend Australian asked the Foundation for Young Australians to explain the discrepancy.
The foundation’s Ms Lee said the number changed because of an administrative error. “It is not a reflection of a decrease in membership of Safe Schools,” she said.
The Safe Schools Coalition Australia offers resources and support to help schools “create safer and more inclusive school environments for same-sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, staff and families.”
In March, the Turnbull government ordered changes to the Safe School anti-bullying program after a revolt by conservative backbench MPs.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham said the program would only be used in high schools and some lesson plans would change.