Safe Schools program: federal government unveils changes

Source: THE AUSTRALIAN, 

The federal government has unveiled changes it wants made to a controversial anti-bullying program in schools.

They include limiting the program to secondary schools only. An independent review of the Safe Schools program found that a number of the resources had lessons and content not necessarily appropriate for all children, Education Minister Simon Birmingham said in Canberra on Friday.

“We will be making it clear that the program resources are fit for delivery in secondary school environments only.” Some of the gender diversity role-playing activities, that have been the focus of public criticism, will also be removed.

Certain materials, including OMG I’m Queer, will be restricted to one-on-one discussion between students and key qualified staff. All third party organisation branding will be removed from official resources.

Senator Birmingham declined to respond to criticism the program’s material was highly ideological.

But he said the government was making it clear sexual and gender diversity advocacy and activism should not be part of the program. Those who had done so had done the program an enormous disservice, he said.

“I would urge them to make sure that they respect the fact that it should be exclusively about the well-being of children in schools.”

Schools will have to get the agreement of their parents group to take part in the program.

Students will require parental consent to participate in program lessons or activities.

Nationals MP George Christensen, who led a backbench revolt against the program, welcomed the changes.

“Essentially the program’s been gutted of all of the bad content that’s been in it,” he told reporters.

“It essentially now is an anti-bullying program rather than something that’s bringing in queer theory and sexual liberation ideals into classrooms.”

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