May 6th 2017

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Shocking truth behind soaring power prices

CANBERRA OBSERVED Malcolm Turnbull on the front foot during U.S. VP's visit

VICTORIA Doctors in Secondary Schools program sidelines parents

FOREIGN AFFAIRS Pro-EU technocrat unlikely to solve France's malaise

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE 'Equality' a false promise to end 'discrimination'

GENDER POLITICS NSW, Tasmania scrap Safe Schools program

NORTH KOREA Will to engage enemy key to Korean Peninsula

NATIONAL CENSUS Typical family: married mum and dad, two kids

SAME-SEX MARRIAGE Gay intolerance puts on its pushy corporate face

EUTHANASIA Nitschke award goes to couple of artists

INTERNATIONAL AFFAIRS Rare win for the family at UN women's commission

OBITUARY Servant of the public and God departs in peace

MUSIC Allan Holdsworth: Unparalleled technique

CINEMA The Fate of the Furious: Families, fast cars, fantastic action


BOOK REVIEW Two views of our future redundancy

BOOK REVIEW Mounted Division in the Great War

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Tasmania scrap Safe Schools program

by Terri M. Kelleher

News Weekly, May 6, 2017

On Easter Sunday ABC News reported that the NSW Coalition Government was replacing the controversial Safe Schools program (SSP) with a new broader anti-bullying strategy when federal funding runs out in June.

Education Minister Rob Stokes made clear that NSW public schools would continue to provide support for LGBT students: schools will be a safe place for all students and that bullying for any reason, because of someone being overweight, gay or because of the colour of their skin, will not be tolerated.

On the following Tuesday, Tasmanian Education and Training Minister Jeremy Rockliff announced that the Tasmanian Coalition Government had no plans to take over the funding of the SSP when federal funding ceased, given its $3 million investment in its own Combatting Bullying budgetinitiative.

In contrast, in the recent state election in Western Australia, support for the SSP was part of Labor’s election platform and the Queensland Labor Government has not announced any plan to ditch the program. The South Australian Labor Government is still to make an announcement about the future of the SSP with the pending loss of federal funds, although the SA Education Department has said it sees value in having a specific program to tackle LGBT bullying. And the Labor governments in Victoria and the ACT will continue to fund the SSP.

Daniel Andrew’s Labor Government in Victoria has committed more than $2 million to continue the roll-out of the program, which is to be in every state high school by the end of 2018.

An interesting development in Victoria, though, is that the Department of Education and Training (DET) has taken over the implementation of the SSP and severed ties with La Trobe University and Roz Ward, the architect of the SSP. Premier Daniel Andrews and Education Minister James Merlino have since then left the job of defending the SSP to Education Department officials.

Support for the SSP is now being described as a “formal and public commitment” to “create a safe and inclusive environment in schools” with schools having a discretion over how this commitment is realised.

Is this indicating that the Safe Schools program has become a hot political issue that needs to be watered down? The brave parents who have publically opposed the program are to be thanked and all parents can now actively assert their right to a say in just how that commitment will be realised.

In Tasmania, ACL state director Mark Brown has expressed concern that the same contested gender theory taught in the SSP not simply continue under another name in the new program as the guidelines for its development stipulate a focus on gender and sexuality.

Mr Brown says he is worried that groups with a “purely anti-bullying platform” will miss out on being involved. The way forward is to work to ensure these groups do have input and that the new program will be a truly effective anti-bullying program that will protect all students, including GLBT students.

In NSW, Liberal MP Damien Tudehope was instrumental in getting the Safe Schools program scrapped, listening to parents who approached him with their concerns and tabling their petitions in Parliament. He is confident that Education Minister Rob Stokes will not allow the sexual diversity and gender fluidity concepts from Safe Schools to be included in the new anti-bullying program.

Mr Stokes has already sounded out education stakeholders about the new program and a draft of the program will be peer reviewed by child psychology experts such as Dr Michael Carr-Gregg, retired school principals and other educational experts before being implemented.

Mr Tudehope described the scrapping of the program as a win for parents. The SSP was an attack on parents’ rights. It is also a win for common sense.

Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham is still retaining SSP resources on the Federal Government’s Student Wellbeing Hub even after the end of federal funding in June. Those resources include teaching and promoting the same contested gender theory of the discredited SSP.

Retaining those resources also provides the spectacle of a Federal Coalition Government appearing to be in lock-step with state Labor governments and out of step with two state Coalition governments and the Coalition in Victoria, which has publically announced it will scrap the SSP if it wins government in the 2018 state election.

So, there is hope for Victorian parents who oppose the SSP. They need to be aware though that the new Resilience Rights and Respectful Relationships curriculum (RRRRs) is peddling the same sexual diversity and gender fluidity theory as the SSP. The Gender and Identity component of the RRRRs also needs to be scrapped.

And the $438 million Doctors in Secondary Schools Program is another initiative of Daniel Andrew’s Labor Government that undermines the rights of parents with regard to the health care of their children (See related story in this edition of News Weekly).

Maybe parents who don’t want their children indoctrinated in sexual diversity and gender fluidity theory can relocate to NSW or Tasmania as Safe Schools refugees. As one commentator put it: “OMG the NSW Government got a taste of common sense. I hope it’s contagious.”

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