Media Release: Safe Schools

23rd January, 2018

Liberals get it wrong on Safe Schools program

The Liberal Party’s plan to scrap the Safe Schools program would be a pointless process of reinventing the wheel say the Australian Democrats.

Peter Smythe, who is running as an Independent Australian Democrats candidate in the state seat of Morialta, says the announcement poses more questions than answers.

‘How much will it cost to develop something new, consult, trial it, train teachers and roll it out?

‘The current anti-bullying initiatives combined with Safe Schools – which is a specialist program, to meet specialist needs – are working, and it makes more sense to strengthen what is there. If concerned there’s not enough general anti-bullying materials, it would, for instance, be feasible to strengthen some of the initiatives of other programs that are already there, to better address racism, or cyber-bullying. It would also be feasible to strengthen Safe Schools by including resources for primary school teachers, if that has been identified as something that is missing.

But we don’t need to throw out what’s already there and start from scratch. That is expensive, wastes time, and disrupts momentum.

‘From the Democrats’ perspective, certain lobby groups continue to politicise a program that is educationally sound, appropriate, and which has received positive feedback and reports from independent reviewers. The conflict makes good media copy.

‘It’s a case of the old dictum, never let truth get in the way of a good argument.

‘Unfortunately it looks like the Liberals have been conned by it.

‘When a program is producing the results, why would you get rid of it, replacing it with a “new” package, except to get votes from a conservative bloc at election time?

‘Let’s stop the politicking over this, and let teachers do their jobs. Safe Schools is no longer controversial – the marriage equality vote showed that’, said Mr Smythe.


 Further comment: Peter Smythe 0400 777 284



  1. Vern Hughes January 30, 2018 at 9:09 am - Reply

    This is a remarkably weak position on the Safe Schools issue, seemingly too afraid of offending the PC bullies to call a spade a spade. Safe Schools program was a flawed and deceiptful exercise from the outset, which attempted to hide a radical gender-fluidity program behind an innocuous anti-bullying program. Both Liberal and Labor governments adopted it without looking closely at the content – which is an amazing admission of how government works in these days of government-overreach, where ministers accept the word of bureaucrats without bothering to inspect things themselves because they are too busy running ineffectual programs on virtually every aspect of life. But then, to top it off, a Democrats candidate says it is ‘too expensive’ to start again with a genuine anti-bullying program. The Democrats will need to find a spine if they are to re-enter the Australian political landscape – there is a lot of competition out there for spineless politics in an age of confusion and cowardice.

    • Elisa January 30, 2018 at 7:56 pm - Reply

      Sorry Vern, but I disagree with your position.

      I spent three years working alongside the Safe Schools program when I worked in the education team of a sexual health organisation. I am also a teacher and have seen the Safe Schools program in practice. I’m happy to answer any questions and share my experiences, and would be equally interested in real concerns based on first hand experience – because I, like my Safe Schools colleagues, are passionate about students’ wellbeing, supporting school workers and families, and being professional and appropriate as educators.

      From the beginning of the media furore, there has been a consistent twisting of facts and spreading of misinformation. The program even had an independent review conducted on it and it was found to be appropriate, educationally sound and beneficial to students, families and the wider school community.

      This is not a case of PC bullies, but there IS an agenda – certain groups and identities are trying to get votes by creating a moral panic that is not grounded in the facts.

      Standing against this misinformation is the spine that the Democrats have, and we will continue to apply it whenever the facts are being obscured by sensationalist headlines.

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