Marrickville Council commits to supporting Safe Schools

Friday, April 22, 2016 | Jenny Leong, Sylvie Ellsmore

Marrickville Council has added its voice to the community campaign supporting Safe Schools with a motion at this week's Council meeting. The motion, brought by Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore, commits the Council to signing the Safe Schools pledge and contacting local schools to notify them of the Council's support. It also calls on Federal and State governments to properly fund and resource the program. The full text of the motion is below.

Greens Councillor Sylvie Ellsmore said:

"The Marrickville LGA has one of highest percentages of LGBTIQ residents of any LGA in Australia.

"Marrickville Council has a history of standing with LGBTIQ families and young people against bullying and bigotry.

"10 years ago Council was defending its child care programs - which openly welcome same sex parents and diverse families - against attacks from the Daily Telegraph.

"A number of local schools are supporters of the Safe Schools program and we encourage other schools to get involved.

"Councillors agreed that it was important that Marrickville Council adds its voice in support of this important program, as a way to show support for our LGBTIQ young people, and for the schools that support gender diversity."

The motion is welcomed by Member for Newtown and Greens NSW spokesperson for Sexuality and Gender Diversity Jenny Leong MP, who said:

"Safe Schools is used by a wide range of schools across NSW and has proven to be an effective program to combat bullying.

"It's extremely disappointing that the Federal government has chosen not to fund Safe Schools beyond next year, as the community need and support for the program is obvious.

"It is wonderful to see Marrickville Council joining the many organisations and individuals who have been standing up for Safe Schools.

"Our local area has a long and proud history of inclusivity and diversity. I know that there is a lot of support within the local community for the objectives of Safe Schools, which are all about giving LGBTI young people and students from LGBTI families a safe space to be themselves and focus on their education.

Text of the Marrickville Council motion (found in the Council Business Papers

That Council:

1.    Pledge its support for the Safe School program

2.    Authorises the Mayor or General Manager to sign the Safe Schools pledge on behalf of Council. The pledge states: We believe that schools should provide a safe and inclusive environment for all students, so that they can learn, grow, and reach their full potential - free from bullying and discrimination. We pledge to stand up against homophobia and transphobia whenever we see or hear it. We are proud to support Safe Schools Coalition Australia and its work to create positive change for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse students, school staff and families;

3.    Writes to local schools notifying them of Council's support for the program.

4. Writes to the Federal government requesting that it:

(a) Re-instate the Safe Schools program in its original form; and

(b) Makes support for anti-bullying gender diversity, intersex and sexual diversity awareness programs a requirement for all schools;

5. Writes to the State Government requesting that it follow the example of the Victorian Government and, in the event that the Federal Government refuses to reinstate Safe Schools, funds the shortfall and enables the rollout of Safe Schools to all schools in NSW;

6. Promotes its support of Safe Schools through its website and buildings used by local students and parents, including Council libraries.

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