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Save Safe Schools WA to hold rally against federal cuts

A Western Australian organisation have condemned the Federal Government for cutting millions from the anti-bullying Safe Schools Coalition after pressure from conservative MPs.

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Save Safe Schools WA oppose the Turnbull Government’s decision to pull integral components from the program, and the announcement that Safe Schools funding will be cut from 2017.

A review of the program launched by Education Minister Simon Birmingham and conducted by UWA Professor Bill Louden led to a number of amendments to Safe Schools, including restricting specific resources to counselling sessions, editing lesson plans for younger students and compulsory parental consent.

Save Safe Schools WA say they will campaign for the Federal Government to return funding to the program and support the educational anti-bullying tool in its original form.

Save Safe Schools WA member Lewis Price believes paring back the program will lead to an increase in suicide amongst the LGBTI community.

“This is a lifesaving program,” Price says, “Cutting the funding means that there is an increased risk of young people of diverse sexuality and gender committing suicide.”

“We call on the Federal Government to return funding to the program immediately.”

Save Safe Schools acknowledge that there are services that work hard to minimise the increased risk of suicide within the LGBTI community, which statistics have shown to be up to seven times higher than the general population. Save Safe Schools believe Safe Schools must remain to help combat these risks.

Local activist and community spokesperson Paul Van Lieshout echoed Price’s concerns about the effects that reducing the program will have on the LGBTI community.

“This is an important program,” Van Lieshout said.

“By cutting funding the Federal Government is sending a message that young people of diverse sexuality and gender do not matter.”

Save Safe Schools WA join the Victorian and ACT Governments in their public support for Safe Schools in its original form. Many other public figures have spoken out against amendments to the original program, including Federal Shadow Education Minister Kate Ellis and WA State MPs Stephen Dawson and Lynn MacLaren.

The Australian Labor Party, The Greens, Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) and the State School Teachers Union among many others have thrown their support behind the Save Safe Schools campaign.

Save Safe Schools WA will hold a rally calling on the Federal Government to reinstate funding to the life-saving program on Saturday 23rd April at 1pm in the Murray Street Mall.

Leigh Hill

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