ACT News


Contract signed for Canberra-specific 'Safe Schools' program

Canberran schools will have access to locally-produced and targeted resources to help them better support sexually and gender diverse students, staff and families by June.

Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT has signed a contract with the Education Directorate to develop the territory-specific program aimed at replacing the support provided by the Safe Schools Coalition.

The split from the national Safe Schools program followed federal government-led changes to the initiative which required parental permission for schools to point students to requested resources. There were concerns some children may shy away from asking for help if it could not be confidential.

Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT executive director Tim Bavinton said the organisation would draw on its knowledge as head of Safe Schools Coalition ACT to develop the new program.

"We will maintain connection and communication with the national Safe Schools Coalition program but we won't be a part of the national Safe Schools Coalition program any more," he said.

"The main things will be that we will continue to connect schools with the national resources which are publicly available on the Student Wellbeing Hub which is an Australian government website that deals with a very broad range of issues.


"We won't be shaping new curriculum resources ... but we will be looking to identify opportunities to recommend resources that have been produced elsewhere after we've done some review and consideration of how well they meet our program guidelines once they're shaped and developed."

The Safe Schools Coalition was first launched in 2014 to stop bullying targeted at LGBTI students.

A series of Coalition backbenchers and conservative commentators campaigned against the program with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull eventually ordering a review into its materials.

Recommendations from the review included the need for parental consent for student participation in the program and restricting the resources to high schools.

The ACT's program will likely have a new name and branding but Mr Bavinton emphasised Sexual Health and Family Planning ACT was proud of its association with the Safe Schools Coalition.

"Naming a program is quite challenging and we haven't come up with anything that's really obvious right now and that's why we want to open it up to some community feedback about how we can reflect what's important to us in the Canberra community without trying to look like we're disowning where we've come from," he said.

The ACT program will be rolled out in schools over the next two years once developed.