We are very pleased to see ACT Government funding support announced today by ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr and Minister for Education Shane Rattenbury.
SHFPACT has been the lead agency with many local community and health service partners in the delivery of the Safe Schools Coalition ACT program funded by the Commonwealth Government through the Foundation for Young Australians (FYA). Local partners include well-known and respected organisations like AIDS Action Council, A Gender Agenda, Northside Community Service, Belconnen Community Service, headspace Canberra, and Youth Coalition ACT.
The program has enjoyed the strong support of ACT Government, and other community and professional groups. SHFPACT Executive Director Tim Bavinton said, “The Canberra community is generally quite progressive, and the program has enjoyed positive community support in its goals to address prejudice and discrimination on the basis of sexuality, sex and gender identity in school communities. The Program has been delivered as a support to schools, with school leaders firmly in the driving seat about what kinds of support and resources they needed that reflected the particular needs of their school and community.”
New requirements on how the program is delivered were announced by Commonwealth Minister for Education in March 2016 following very public attacks on the program in the national media, but it has taken a period of many months (including a hiatus during the federal election) for revised guidelines to be finalised and issued to SHFPACT for its provision of the program under national funding arrangements.
SHFPACT Executive Director Tim Bavinton said, “After careful consideration of the impact of the changed guidelines on vulnerable young people, member school participation, and the ability of the collaborating partners to successfully assist school communities to make schools safe and inclusive for same-sex attracted, intersex, and gender diverse students, families and staff, SHFPACT reluctantly concluded that the negative impacts on continuing under those arrangements outweigh the benefits, and advised the ACT Government accordingly. The ACT Government response has been to back its public statements of support for the program with a financial commitment that will enable us to continue to meet the needs of our school communities.
“We have been very proud of the work that has been achieved so far under the national funding arrangements. We acknowledge the leadership and courage of the Australian Government in funding the national program, and are grateful to Foundation for Young Australians (national convenors of Safe Schools Coalition Australia) and the providers in other States/Territories for their support and collaboration. We look forward to maintaining a positive relationship with the national program and other providers of these services nationally with the shared goal of safe and inclusive schools for all.”