Friday, 18 March 2016

Education minister Simon Birmingham has announced several changes to the Safe Schools Coalition after a review into the LGBTI anti-bullying program.

Ultra conservatives roll Turnbull

Story from BuzzFeed
Education minister Simon Birmingham has announced changes to the Safe Schools Coalition after a review into the LGBTI anti-bullying program.
The review was carried out by professor Bill Louden from the University of Western Sydney after concerns over the program were raised by conservative MPs following a campaign in The Australian newspaper.
Birmingham announced several changes to the program, including amending some lesson plans, restricting certain resources to one-on-one counselling sessions between students and staff, and giving parents a greater say in whether their child accesses the program.
“Students should not be confronted with, nor be at greater risk of, accessing information or material that is inappropriate for their age or cultural background,” Birmingham said.
Birmingham also indicated that the program would not continue to receive funding when the current plan ends in 2017.
“There was never an intention the program be funded beyond the current contract period,” he said after being questioned in a press conference.
“The intention was what the program has done and is doing, developing resources for schools and teachers to use in accordance with their policies and following consultation with their parents and those resources will of course live on, on the Safe School hub website.”
Shadow education minister Kate Ellis labelled the plan to end funding next year “sneaky and deceptive”.
“This wasn’t in their official statement. Instead, Malcolm Turnbull and Simon Birmingham hid the fact that the program will essentially be axed,”
“Is it any surprise why George Christensen is so happy with the review? It’s because he has been given a clear assurance that under a Liberal Government, the Safe Schools program will cease to exist.”
In a statement, the Safe Schools Coalition said they welcomed the government’s support for the “continued delivery” of the program.
“We will work through the proposed changes with the Department and the Minister,” the statement read.
“The review by Emeritus Professor William Louden has found that the official resources are consistent with the intent and objectives of the program and are appropriate for use in schools. We acknowledge Professor Louden for his expertise in the delivery of this review.”
Three lesson plans in the All Of Us teaching guide will be amended to address content Louden found to be potentially unsuitable.
A further lesson plan will be amended to ensure the content aligns with the biology curriculum for the Year 7&8 cohort.
Louden’s review found all Safe Schools Coalition resources were consistent with the program’s two aims: reducing prejudice against LGBTI students and increasing support for them.
In response to complaints from several conservative MPs that the program links to inappropriate online content, the government will limit any reference to external organisations to mental health and counselling services funded by federal or state governments.
Birmingham also said there would be a specific guideline that the program resources not be used for political advocacy.
All resources produced by the program will be restricted to secondary schools, while certain resources – including the OMG I’m Queer, OMG My Friend’s Queer and Stand Out booklets – will be restricted to one-on-one discussions between students and “qualified staff”.
The changes will also see parents have a greater say in the application of the program, with consent required for student participation and a fact sheet distributed to parents.
“Parents should have confidence in what is taught in a school and receive clear information, especially about potentially contentious issues,” Birmingham said. “Parents should have a right to withdraw their child from classes dealing with such matters.”
The program has faced staunch opposition from conservative Coalition backbenchers in recent weeks. Member for Mackay George Christensen said a petition he circulated among Coalition MPs received 43 signatures, including former prime minister Tony Abbott.
Birmingham said Safe Schools funding would not continue beyond the current agreement in response to a question in his press conference. 

The Guardian on the other hand says:

The Turnbull government has made dramatic changes to its Safe Schools anti-bullying program that have been described by the scheme’s opponents as “gutting” its content.

The changes sharply reduce the lesson content, restrict it to secondary schools, shift the program to a government website, remove all links to other material and sites, and add a requirement that students get parental consent and schools get parent-body consent before opting to use its materials.

Don't confuse what the government says with what their report found....

But Victoria will go it alone....

The Victorian Government has said it will not be making any changes to the Safe Schools anti-bullying program despite a Federal Government decision to amend it after concerns from conservative MPs.

The review came after ultra conservative Coalition MPs and senators said they were concerned about some of the material in the program, which is designed to teach children about sexual and gender diversity and stamp out homophobia.

Victoria's Education Minister James Merlino said the Safe Schools program content had already been approved by curriculum experts and would remain intact.

Mr Merlino said Victoria would continue to roll out the program in schools.

"What we are saying in Victoria is that we will no allow this to happen," he said.

"If the Federal Government pulls funding from the Safe Schools coalition, we will ensure that the program continues as is.

"We will expand it to every government secondary school in Victoria, as we promised." 

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said he believed Mr Birmingham had handled the review of the program well.

"The Victorian Government obviously can fund whatever programs it wishes," he said.

Mr Merlino said young same-sex attracted people were six times more likely to attempt suicide and the program "saves lives".

"We know that 75 per cent of same-sex attracted young people are bullied and the vast majority of that occurs in our schools and that's why we need a universal anti-bullying program in our schools," he said.

"What Malcolm Turnbull has done is cave in to the bigots in his party with no consideration to the pain and suffering this is causing LGBTI students and their families.

"This has never been an issue about the Safe Schools coalition, this has always been about the views of the extreme elements within the Liberal Party.

No comments:

Post a Comment