An independent review of the Safe Schools program found that a number of the resources had included content not necessarily appropriate for all children.
Source:
AAP
18 Mar 2016 - 2:42 PM  UPDATED 18 Mar 2016 - 3:28 PM

The federal government has unveiled changes it wants made to a controversial anti-bullying program in schools.

They include limiting the program to secondary schools only.

An independent review of the Safe Schools program found that a number of the resources had lessons and content not necessarily appropriate for all children, Education Minister Simon Birmingham said in Canberra on Friday.

"We will be making it clear that the program resources are fit for delivery in secondary school environments only."

Some of the gender diversity role-playing activities, that have been the focus of public criticism, will also be removed.

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Certain materials, including OMG I'm Queer, will be restricted to one-on-one discussion between students and key qualified staff.

All third-party organisation branding will be removed from official resources.

"I would urge them to make sure that they respect the fact that it should be exclusively about the well-being of children in schools."

Queensland Liberal National MP George Christensen, who led a backbench revolt against the program, welcomed the changes.

"Essentially the program's been gutted of all of the bad content that's been in it," he told reporters.

"It essentially now is an anti-bullying program rather than something that's bringing in queer theory and sexual liberation ideals into classrooms."

The report recommended few changes to the program, stating in its findings "All of the official resources are consistent with the intent and objectives of the program, in that they focus on one or both of the SSCA’s two overall aims, reducing homophobic and transphobic behaviour and intersex prejudice, and increasing support for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students".

"All of the lessons in All of Us are educationally sound, age-appropriate and aligned to the Australian curriculum," the review found.

"Activities in three of the lessons (Lessons 2, 6 and 7) may not be suitable in all contexts, but their suitability falls within the reasonable range of teacher judgment. The lessons could proceed without these activities if they were thought to be inappropriate in a particular class, or modified to make them more suitable."

The review found the OMG I’m Queer and OMG My Friend’s Queer "are consistent with the SSCA program’s aims, but the tone and language of the documents means that they are most suitable for older students, and for use by individuals".

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It recommended they not be used for primary school students.

"They are not teaching and learning resources so they would not be expected to relate directly to the Australian curriculum or be used as a whole-class resource," the review found.

The review also recommended that additional guidance be developed for parents of LGBTI students to "provide some general information about the SSCA services and resources, as well as specific information for those with same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse children". 

Senator Birmingham declined to respond to criticism the program's material was highly ideological.

But he said the government was making it clear sexual and gender diversity advocacy and activism should not be part of the program.

Those who had done so had done the program an enormous disservice, he said.

How Safe Schools will change

More power for parents:

- Students will need parental consent to participate.

- Parents will also get a say if schools can take part.

- Gay and lesbian students who don't get their parents' consent can access school counselling.

Websites:

- Safe Schools website will be stripped of some content.

- Content moved to a broader anti-bullying website within Department of Education.

- All third-party organisation branding removed from all official resources.

Program:

- Program materials restricted to secondary schools.

- Lesson plans amended to remove activities regarded "unsuitable" such as gender diversity-role playing activities.

- All of Us resource redesigned to ensure it's backed by curriculum on biology appropriate for the target age group.

- Resources peer reviewed and approved by a panel of qualified educators from department.

- Restricting the use and distribution of the OMG I'm Queer, OMG My Friend's Queer and Stand Out resources.

People:

- Managers won't be able to bring program into disrepute, or engage in political advocacy.