WA Education Minister has no plans to re-fund Inclusive Education WA

WA’s Minister for Education and Training, Sue Ellery MLC, has no plans to renew funding for local LGBTQIA+ support program Inclusive Education WA.

The Education Department confirmed last week that Western Australia’s rebranded version of the Safe Schools program will no longer be funded after October 31st 2020.

“While it is a valuable resource, few schools were using the face-to-face Inclusive Education WA service,” Minister Ellery told OUTinPerth.

“Given those numbers the content will be available online next year.”

“Schools have indicated a preference for flexible delivery in professional development.”

Minister Ellery thanked the WA AIDS Council for delivering the program over the last four years.

“I would like to add, the program has been terrific in providing professional development and advice for school staff, and I thank the AIDS Council for developing the content for this online service, which will continue to support the needs of LGBTQIA+ students,” Minister Ellery continued.

“Schools and individual students will continue to be able to access support through the Department of Education’s School Psychology Service.”

WA Greens leader and spokesperson for Sexuality and Gender Diversity Alison Xamon said allowing the funding for the Inclusive Education WA program to expire is short-sighted.

“We know that many LGBTIQ young people attending Western Australian schools continue to experience higher levels of bullying, discrimination, a lack of understanding and awareness from teachers, staff or fellow students, and policies which do not recognise their sexuality or gender diversities,” Xamon told OUTinPerth.

“LGBTIQ young people are still at much higher risk of suicide than the rest of the community. We should be doing everything that we can to ensure the mental health and safety of our children.”

“Inclusive Education WA is absolutely crucial to ensuring teachers and other staff have the training and resources they need to provide adequate support for LGBTIQ youth. In line with community expectations that the LGBTIQ community be protected and supported, I implore the Government to re-think this short-sighted decision.”

Local LGBTQIA+ community groups have begun a letter writing campaign to various state MPs in light of the news, urging the McGowan Government to ensure a safe, inclusive and affirming environment for all students.

“IEWA provide tailored training and expert guidance that is adjusted to the needs of each school (particularly in regard to affirming trans and gender diverse students) – this is something that cannot be achieved by an online module, ”TransFolk of WA said in a statement.

“IEWA is an invaluable resource for regional communities, delivering a large proportion of their training outside the Perth metropolitan area. The evidence highlights the significant and urgent need for expanding the services IEWA delivers supporting schools in regional and rural areas.”

“TransFolk of WA requests that the WA Education Department extends the funding of IEWA so that it can continue to provide specialised expert training and advice to Western Australian schools on LGBTI+ active inclusion. We regard this matter as critical to the health and safety of WA LGBTI+ youth.”

“When we talk to LGBTIQA+ young people they consistently tell us that they experience discrimination and violence at school from teachers, staff and their peers,” a spokesperson for Youth Pride Network also told OUTinPerth.

“We’ve also seen the amazing impact that the Inclusive Education WA program has had to transform schools into safe and inclusive places.”

Leigh Andrew Hill

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