Page 4163 - Week 11 - Wednesday, 24 October 2018

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The response of the Australian community to the released Ruddock report has been incredible. The vast majority of Australians do not support a right to discriminate against students and teachers within our schools based on their sexual orientation. It is clear that many religious-based schools in the ACT do not support that discrimination either.

Australia has recently voted to remove discrimination in our marriage laws, not to extend discrimination. As a community we all have a role in preventing the serious harm that discrimination can cause to vulnerable young people and families, and we will remove unjustified discrimination in our laws, where required, to ensure LBGTIQ Canberrans are protected. I applaud the Chief Minister’s comments about reviewing the Discrimination Act, and I look forward to seeing the amendments when they are introduced to the Assembly.

MS BERRY (Ginninderra—Deputy Chief Minister, Minister for Education and Early Childhood Development, Minister for Housing and Suburban Development, Minister for the Prevention of Domestic and Family Violence, Minister for Sport and Recreation and Minister for Women) (12.06): I thank Ms Orr for bringing this motion forward today. It is an important issue for our community and for this government and something we have been working very hard on to ensure our community is as inclusive as possible. Of course, it is also something I have been working on as education minister.

The ACT government has a proud record of advancing the cause of equality and resisting discrimination. All ACT schools, both government and non-government, are diverse environments that reflect the differences in our community. Students present in our schools with a range of personal characteristics, including diversity in gender identity and presentation, sexual orientation and intersex status. Everybody in our community is a little bit different, and that is what makes us beautiful.

All children should be encouraged to be themselves without experiencing prejudice or hate. Because of this, all schools have a duty to provide a safe, respectful and inclusive environment free from bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence. The government will not accept any of this in any of our ACT schools.

ACT Labor have a strong history dedicated to respecting, welcoming and celebrating diversity, and we are delivering on this in government. For example, leading into the last election the ACT government responded to the federal government undermining the safe schools program by committing to directly fund a new program that meets the needs of students and school communities. In the 2017 budget we delivered on that commitment with $400,000 to enable the continuation of a safe and inclusive schools program in ACT schools.

Early in 2018 the government launched the safe and inclusive schools initiative to equip schools with access to the resources and support to provide a safe and inclusive environment for LGBTIQ people. The goal of this program is to build the capacity of ACT schools and education programs to develop and maintain safe and inclusive environments for all students. School leaders and communities are free to choose from

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