Bill Shorten has refused to rule out reintroducing the controversial Safe Schools anti-bullying and sex education program should he become prime minister.
Federal Education Minister Simon Birmingham last year ended federal funding for the program, which has been criticised for teaching gender fluidity, and allocated permanent funding to the national schools chaplaincy program in last week’s budget.
Safe School was criticised for teaching gender fluidity.
Several state governments, including the Andrews Labor government in Victoria, continue to support and fund Safe Schools.
A fortnight ago former military officer and cricket commentator Cate McGregor, a transgender woman who was once one of the highest profile critics of Safe Schools, declared she had been wrong to oppose the program and now intended to back “most elements” of it.
Asked whether he would like to see the reintroduction of Safe Schools, Mr Shorten said the program was “applied in different states and some of it already exists”.
“The way I approach Safe Schools programs, and indeed other anti-bullying programs is keeping our kids safe should be paramount,” Mr Shorten said.
“There is a lot of work these days done about online safety, although the predators online are every parent’s nightmare, because of the social media, which is great, but it can also be an evil too with bullying.
“So I think we’re aware of it, even if I don’t think we’ve got all the answers, but there’s another practical problem. I hear from parents every day” their kids are getting bullied at school.
“So I do think that we need to do everything we can to keep our kids safe. There’s a lot of parents who feel quite impotent and disempowered, because you’ve got stretched school resources, and how do you protect — there’s not a worse feeling in the world if you’re a parent than the feeling you can’t keep your child safe.”