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Monday, 21 May 2018
Page: 3822

Safe Schools Coalition Australia

Thank you for your letters of 6 February 2018 regarding Petitions EN0437 and EN0409 concerning the Safe Schools Coalition Australia (SSCA) program and delivery of sexuality education in Australian schools.

The Safe Schools Coalition Australia program was a four-year program (2013-17) instigated by the previous Labor government, just prior to the 2013 election. The contract and funding ended in 2017. The Turnbull Government will not be providing further funding to this program.

Following an independent review into the program in 2016, the Australian Government introduced a series of reforms, including amending materials found to be of concern and implementing parent body consent arrangements in the signing up of a school to the program. Parental consent was also introduced where students were likely to participate in classroom or group based program activities.

Since the announcement of these reforms, the Victorian and Australian Capital Territory Governments announced their exit from the national program and did not wish to continue to operate the program under the new conditions. As such, Australian Government funding to Victoria and the Australian Capital Territory ceased immediately.

Regarding concerns around the teaching of sexuality in schools, it is important to note that state and territory curriculum and school education authorities are responsible for implementation of the Australian Curriculum in their schools. They do this in line with system and jurisdictional policies and requirements. The Australian Curriculum for Foundation to Year 10 sets the expectations for what all young Australians should be taught, regardless of where they live or their background. The curriculum has been designed to be flexible so that it can be adapted or adopted in order to meet the needs of all schools and their communities.

The Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority provides guidance and support materials to teachers, principals and parents in understanding and implementing the curriculum. Further information on the Australian Curriculum is available at www.australiancurriculum.edu.au.

The Government respects the right of parents to choose the best school for their child, however each state and territory is responsible for policies relating to parental consent for the programs run in their schools. Parents are well within their rights to ask that their child be withdrawn from lessons that they feel are in conflict with their beliefs, and should they decide to withdraw their child from a specific class or classes, the school must provide alternate educational activities for them to participate in.

Thank you again for writing on this matter. I trust this information is of assistance.

Yours sincerely

from the Minister for Education and Training, Senator the Hon Simon Birmingham