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Tasmania drops Safe Schools program

Tasmania will cut the Safe Schools program after Federal Government funding expires.

It comes after the New South Wales Government also revealed it was working on a replacement for the program.

Federal funding for the anti-bullying and education initiative expires at the end of June.

Currently 22 public schools in Tasmania are part of Safe Schools, along with 18 NSW public schools.

The two states are replacing Safe Schools with their own anti-bullying programs.

Tasmanian Education Minister Jeremy Rockliff told Education Review his government will invest $3 million over four years into a replacement scheme called Combat Bullying.

“It is up to each Tasmanian school to make their own decisions about the programs used in their school, and government schools are encouraged to use the Department of Education’s own program,” Rockliff said.

NSW Education Minister Rob Stokes also told the publication an as-yet unnamed replacement program will receive funding in the state budget after 30 June 2017.

Stokes said this program will be ready by Term 3 of the NSW school year.

A spokesperson for the Safe Schools Coalition Australia told Education Review, “SSCA remains committed to ensuring that all LGBTI young people, no matter where they live, can learn in a safe and inclusive environment, where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

“We will continue to build the capacity of teachers through professional development in 2017.”

The Safe Schools program was reviewed in March 2016 in a government-commissioned inquiry that found some of Safe Schools’ lessons were inappropriate for primary school children.

Following the review, Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham announced that Safe Schools would be limited to high schools.

Bernardi email

Cory Bernardi email to Melbourne mother faces criticism

An email reportedly sent by Senator Cory Bernardi to a Melbourne mother on the topic of the Safe Schools program has received criticism from the Minister for Education and Training, Simon Birmingham.

On Monday night, mother of two, Pia Cerveri received a reply to an email she had sent Bernardi containing her opinion regarding his stance on the anti-bullying program.

Beyond informing Ms Cerveri that she “clearly” hasn’t “any idea what is in the program”, Mr Bernardi’s email went on to say the Safe Schools website links to “bondage clubs and adult sex toys” before telling Ms Cerveri he worried for her children.

Read the full email at the link below.

At the time of writing, it has not yet been confirmed by Mr Bernardi or his office that he had sent the email himself, although the email address used has been verified as his.

Having overseen the Government’s handling of a review on the Safe Schools initiative, Mr Birmingham expressed his displeasure in the language used in the email in an appearance on Channel Ten’s ‘The Project’.

“There is certainly language I wouldn’t use and that is not an accurate reflection of what is in the Safe Schools program,” he said. “There are genuine concerns contained in that about the type of websites that you can link from in relation to some of the recommended sites of the Safe School program. That is where we have taken action, but other areas of that, frankly, are not an accurate reflection and not terribly helpful.”

The exchange follows the news that the Government had recommended sweeping changes to the program, in which it would be limited to being available only to secondary schools, requiring parent consent for children to participate and also removing external links from the Safe Schools website.