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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2016 Week 03 Hansard (Wednesday, 9 March 2016) . . Page.. 843 ..

Our teachers are at the front line of student support, and I will always speak in favour of better training and better support funding for them. It means that if a student decides to talk to a teacher about a gender or sexuality issue, they can handle it with professionalism and sympathy and avoid potentially difficult experiences for the student.

There are four schools in my electorate of Ginninderra which receive support from the safe schools program—Florey Primary School, Hawker College, Canberra High School and Melba Copland Secondary School. There are also a further four schools in the broader Gungahlin area which receive funding, namely, Gungahlin College, Amaroo School, Gold Creek School and the University of Canberra High School at Kaleen. I look forward to visiting these schools and speaking to staff about the positive impacts that the safe schools program has had in lowering the level of bullying in their classrooms.

It is important to note that the effects of a program like this go far beyond our schools. They go towards the kind of society that we as Canberrans want to build in this city. Do we want a society built on understanding and acceptance? Do we want our young people growing up knowing that it is unacceptable to judge others for things that are beyond their control? Do we think it is unacceptable that discourse around LGBTI issues in the federal parliament is as poor as it has been in our schoolyards? My answer to these questions, and the answer of most decent Canberrans, is a resounding yes.

But one question remains: do the Canberra Liberals agree with their federal counterparts regarding destroying programs which address the epidemic of bullying in our schools, or will they unequivocally stand with Labor in order to save a significant number of our young people from lifelong low self-esteem and harassment?

MR DOSZPOT (Molonglo) (12.10): I thank Mr Hinder for bringing this motion on for debate in the ACT Legislative Assembly. At the outset, I would like to say that I recognise Mr Hinder is a brand new MLA and I recognise that there are a myriad of rules and protocols to get one’s head around. However, in respect of his motion, it needs to be pointed out that, one, the Safe Schools Coalition Australia is a federal program; two, the federal government has recently announced a review of its program; three, the two federal members of parliament and the one federal senator whom Mr Hinder has quoted in his motion are Liberal Party backbenchers and as such are at liberty to express their personal views on any number of subjects, unlike Labor Party members who are not provided with such freedoms.

In Mr Hinder’s defence, if he had been observing his colleagues in this place in recent weeks, he would have seen that they have been presenting a plethora of federal issues—from equality in marriage, to euthanasia and the NBN. In fact, Labor have talked about anything but their own ACT-based policies because the only one they have is light rail and it is very much on the nose.

The Safe Schools Coalition Australia, SSCA, is the first national program funded by the Australian government aimed at creating safe and supportive school environments

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