Media Release: Over 100 Schools have joined Safe Schools Coalition Victoria!

Safe Schools Coalition Victoria

Media Release                                                
For immediate distribution – please on forward
Monday 16th April 2013

Over 100 Schools have joined Safe Schools Coalition Victoria!

Safe Schools Coalition Victoria have welcomed their 100 and 101st new member schools this month. Glen Eira College and Elwood College joined on the same day to push the membership into 3 figures! The news was greeted with cheers from over 400 young people when it was announced at the Same Sex Formal on Saturday night (April 6th). The highly popular event, organised by Minus18 in partnership with Safe Schools Coalition Victoria aimed to create a safe, supportive and celebratory space for same sex attracted young people and their friends, whilst also raising awareness of inclusion at school formals more generally.

Since launching in October 2010, support for the coalition has continued to increase throughout the state. The program has delivered professional learning sessions with over 2,500 school staff across Victoria, and reached thousands of students through school based projects and partnerships. It has also distributed thousands of information booklets, posters, and stickers to school staff and students.

Safe Schools Coalition Victoria is funded by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and the Department of Health. Based at Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria at La Trobe University, research is used to make sure that training and resources are high quality and relevant to the broader education framework.

The coalition aims to create school environments ‘where every family can belong, where every teacher can teach and every student can learn’. Government schools in Victoria have a positive duty to support sexual diversity, and ensure that there is no homophobic or transphobic bullying or discrimination.

Roz Ward, co-founder and co-ordinator of the coalition said;

“It is very exciting to welcome our 100th school to the coalition. When we launched back in 2010 nobody quite knew just how popular the coalition would become.

We have received so much positive feedback; we just know this is making a difference to students all across Victoria, and in all different kinds of schools.

The cheers from students at the same sex formal to this news, just shows how important this initiative has been in giving young people the confidence to just  be themselves. We want everyone at school to feel like they belong, and whatever their gender or sexuality, they are valued as part of the community”

— Ends —

Roz Ward, Coordinator of Safe Schools Coalition Victoria is available for interview.

T: 03 9285 5131 | M: 0450 319952 | E: r.ward@latrobe.edu.au

CHECK OUT OUR NEW WEBSITE: www.sscv.org.au

Roz Ward
Youth Programs, Gay and Lesbian Health Victoria
Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society
La Trobe University, 215 Franklin Street, Melbourne 3000
T:03 9285 5131 F:03 9285 5220
E: r.ward@latrobe.edu.au

Safe Schools Coalition Victoria

AJN Letters: Response to Bialik joining SSCV – March 15, 2013

15 March 2013
The Australian Jewish News Melbourne edition

Letters to the editor should be no more than 250 words and may be edited for length and content. Only letters sent to letters@jewishnews.net.au will be considered for publication. Please supply an address and daytime phone number for verification.


Note: the letters on this page refer to last week’s story Bialik to be a ‘safer’ school.


The importance of inclusion for all

MAZAL tov to Safe Schools Coalition Victoria Jewish schools The King David School, Sholem Aleichem College and now Bialik.

Safe Schools Coalition Victoria is a coalition of schools and individuals dedicated to creating safer educational environments where same sex attracted and gender questioning young people are supported, where every family can belong, where every teacher can teach and every student can learn. I am proud of these schools for taking this proactive step. As a lesbian parent, it means so much for my children to know that they are safe, secure and included at school.

SHAUNA SHERKER
Melbourne, Vic


All Jewish schools should be ‘safe’

WE welcome Bialik College as a new member of Safe Schools Coalition Victoria, in a week that also saw Geelong Grammar join us in showing their commitment to supporting diversity.

There are now 93 members of the coalition, from all sectors of the education system – government, independent, and religious. Our program works in partnership with the Department of Education and the Department of Health to actively support gender and sexual diversity in schools.

Research from Australia shows that it takes more than just general anti-bullying policies and practices to make schools truly inclusive. Increasing the visibility of gender and sexual diversity throughout the school, and inclusion across the curriculum, help to make young people feel not only safe, but able to be themselves.

We would love the opportunity to work with more Jewish schools to ensure that same sex attracted and gender diverse students, staff, and families that form part of all these school communities are not just free from bullying, but healthy and happy.

ROZ WARD
Coordinator,
Safe Schools Coalition Victoria


Bialik to be a ‘safer’ school | AJN

Bialik to be a 'safer' school
Bialik to be a ‘safer’ school
Australian Jewish News (Melbourne edition)
March 8 2013, page 12

Letters to the Editor: letters@jewishnews.net.au
(250 words max and include not-for-publication contact details)


QOSA video:


Bialik College joins Safe Schools Coalition Victoria

MEDIA RELEASE
March 1 2013

ALEPH MELBOURNE CONGRATULATES BIALIK COLLEGE
ON JOINING SAFE SCHOOLS COALITION VICTORIA

Aleph Melbourne congratulates Bialik College on joining Safe Schools Coalition Victoria today.  Bialik College is now the third Jewish day school in Victoria to join SSCV, following in the footsteps of long-standing member King David School and the more recent addition of Sholem Aleichem College.

Aleph Melbourne co-convenor Michael Barnett said “Bialik College has shown true leadership in joining Safe Schools Coalition Victoria today.  It is a sign of commitment and maturity by the school that it places the welfare of its students foremost.  As a former student of Bialik College who struggled deeply with my sexuality during my high school years, I am confident my academic and social experience would have benefited by this type of initiative.”

Aleph Melbourne calls on all remaining Jewish day and after-hours schools to follow the leadership set by King David School, Bialik College and Sholem Aleichem College and similarly join SSCV.  The health and well-being of the community’s children must not be sacrificed, especially during some of the most critical years of their lives.

Suicide and self-harm have been demonstrated to be a serious problem amongst same-sex attracted youth when they are not accepted and affirmed unconditionally, with elevated level of risk to the norm.  The sooner all schools mitigate this risk by adopting “best practices” in regards to acceptance of diversity in sexual orientation, gender identity and intersex status the better off the community will be.

CONTACTS:
Aleph Melbourne: Michael Barnett / 0417-595-541 / michael@aleph.org.au
Safe Schools Coalition Victoria: Roz Ward / 03-9285-5131 / r.ward@latrobe.edu.au

Petition | Mount Scopus Memorial College: Become a member of the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria. | Change.org

Petition | Mount Scopus Memorial College: Become a member of the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria. | Change.org.


Comments posted on the petition, current as at 13:30 Jul 15 2013:

  • Bryce Kenny MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    As a gay student I felt as though my school was not a place I could be comfortable at, the issues surrounding sexual identity were ignored unless from an academic, religious perspective which was far from inviting.. I love the school and the community and that’s why I want it to be as positive of an influence on the life of each student and the community as it possibly can be

  • Lillian Poe WEED, CA

    It is done by men who do not respect women and change needs to happen.

  • Ena Burstin MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    Because when I was a young lesbian, Mt Scopus was so unsafe for me…I don’t want any young people to experience the fear and loathing I did. Please make this school safe, respectful and welcoming.

  • Tayla Rabie AUSTRALIA

    Many gay friends and family members, they deserve to be happy too.

  • Mike Samuel AUSTRALIA

    A safe environment is imperative for the wellbeing and mental health of GLBTIQ youth. Mount Scopus should join SSCV and lead the community in ensuring the safety of their charges.

  • Josh Steiner AUSTRALIA

    Because everyone should feel secure

  • Vivien Ray NORTHCOTE, AUSTRALIA

    As a counsellor, I see young people who tell me it is not safe to ‘come out’ at school. Help make them feel safe and accepted at school.

  • Gina Saben AUSTRALIA

    I would hate to not feel safe to be myself within our school walls.

  • Zoë Kay AUSTRALIA

    If I have rights to walk through school being who I am, people who like the same sex shouldn’t find life any different.

  • Brandon Zielinski MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    Everyone should be allowed to love who they fall in love with. It doesn’t matter if it is a guy and a girl, a boy and a boy or a girl and a girl. Love is love, and that’s all that matters.

  • yonit chait DONCASTER, AUSTRALIA

    Because everyone has and deserves rights no matter who they love and what they believe.

  • Everyone deserves to love.

  • jade bresler AUSTRALIA

    BECAUSE HOMOPHOBIA FUCKIN SUCKS

  • Guy Hipsher AUSTRALIA

    I want my school to be a Safe school

  • Dahlia Goldberg AUSTRALIA

    because everyone on this earth has the right to love.

  • Roy Freeman SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA

    SSCV is a great initiative; it educates children about subjects that would otherwise remain taboo in some communities and it makes schools safer for same-sex attracted and gender-diverse kids. The earlier kids are taught about this stuff, the more likely they are to grow up open-minded.

  • Montana Sharp AUSTRALIA

    Here’s the thing..

    I used to be indifferent. I used to not care about homosexuality and the phrases ”that’s so gay” and ”faggot” used to fly right out of my mouth. I was uneducated. Sure my aunty whom I hadn’t seen in years was gay, as was my second cousin, but I never really felt an emotional stigma to fight for rights to a concept I had no idea about.

    In 2011, I became very close friends with a very quirky and intelligent guy whom I suspected was gay, not that at the time I really cared, as I said before I was incredibly indifferent. However, once you start to love and trust someone, and recognise that your carelessness is probably keeping them from trusting you, you know changes have to be made. I think education is important not just for those who are rabid homophobics, but for those who have no stance, like I once had. What most of these indifferent individuals need to recognise is that those seemingly harmless everyday words and phrases that we just throw around for the sake of fitting into the mainstream vernacular could be hurting anyone. You could be hurting your sister, your brother, your teacher, your peers, or even your best friend. The removal of the subtle undercurrent of homophobia that is ever-present in Mount Scopus is absolutely essential to the mental and physical wellbeing of the students of the present, and of the future. Let’s fix ignorance.

  • Ben Janover AUSTRALIA

    Scopus should show its adhernence of the ethos of having a safe and welcoming learning environment for ALL – including students and staff. Being a current student at school here, I believe that the lid must be opened on this issue.

  • Marco Fink MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    To promote equality and support for all students of all sexual orientations and gender identities.

  • David Donaldson AUSTRALIA

    Because school is hard enough without having to worry about being queer or trans.

  • Mark Baker MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    I think the issue goes beyond creating a safe environment; it’s about communicating a message to all students that gays are an equal part of the Jewish covenant, and therefore carry the same responsibility to build authentic Jewish lives and homes. This affirmative message is as important for Scopus, as for a synagogue community.

  • Ralph Burd CAULFIELD NORTH, AUSTRALIA

    Everyone deserves to feel safe and be able to have a voice

  • Jennifer Lee AUSTRALIA

    Every child and adult has the right to feel safe and welcomed within their community and its institutions – creating and maintaining the dialogue is key.

  • Jonathan Danilowitz TEL AVIV, ISRAEL

    To savethe lives of distressed youth under extreme pressure. To reunite families split apart

  • Linda Joseph RESTON, VA

    I am a former student of Mt Scopus. My work as a rabbi brings me into contact with many folk from the GLBTQ community. Many of whom have gifted wonderful talents to Jewish life and continuity. If all of us are created B’tzelem Elohim, in the image of God, shouldn’t GLBTQ students, teachers and members of the College community, not be cherished and accepted, just the way they have been created?

  • Sylvia Schey LONDON, UNITED KINGDOM

    I believe it is the right for everyone to choose the way they wish to live as long as it doesn’t impact on others. The prime minister of England has brought into law the ability for have a same sex marriage. It is after all, the 21st century

  • Roxanne Joseph JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

    Part of Habonim Dror Southern Africa, stand for LBGT rights!

  • Daniel Etzion AUSTRALIA

    Im an ex student of the school, and have many friends who are homosexual.

  • It is so important that schools are a safe space for everyone.

  • Rebecca Burns AUSTRALIA

    Every single person deseves to be treated the same

  • Ariela Jacobs AUSTRALIA

    You could save a lot of lives. No one should have to feel uncomfortable within their community, nor should they feel that way with their day to day school environment just because of who they are.

  • Eric Rollett AUSTRALIA

    I feel it is important for our society to be more inclusive of something that is not an option or choice for a young person.

  • Selma Browde JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

    Should be important to any intelligent thinking person.

  • Jaryd Kay CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA

    Everybody has the right to dignity.

  • Daniel Browde JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA

    I believe in standing up to bullies and violence and however we can do that, we should. With kindness and solidarity, we really can make the world a better place.

  • Paul Browde NEW YORK, NY

    as a boy i lived with the tyranny of homophobia, as an adult and a psychiatrist i see the terrible effects of homophobia on adolescents with higher suicide rates among gay youth.

  • Romy Browne MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    Everyone, children and adults, deserve to be in an environment where their sexual orientation is respected, they feel safe and where tolerance and acceptance towards and others is not only taught, but enforced. This is a fantastic initiative, you have my full support.

  • Merv Barnett AUSTRALIA
    Each and every person, without exception, deserves equal rights and freedom to exist in harmony and complete safety amongst their peers. Schools and other youth organisations must adopt a zero tolerence for homophobia. Protection of our children is paramount whilst they grow and try to find their way in life. I speak from the experience of being a totally supportive parent of a gay son.
  • We want all members of our community, particularly our children, to be given the confidence to be who they are not, not who we want them to be.

  • Harold Zwier ELSTERNWICK, AUSTRALIA

    Putting your name publicly to this petition might encourage others to also sign it and effect change.

  • Family member that was bullied at school due to sexuality.

  • Tessa Manoim JERUSALEM, ISRAEL

    because it is important and can save lives

  • Nathan Cherny MACCABIM, ISRAEL

    I am a concerned former student and uncle of the school captain

  • Osher G CAULFIELD NORTH, AUSTRALIA

    As one of the largest educational organisations of Jewish children in Australia, its integral that our children are brought up and educated in an environment which fosters positive attitudes, tolerance, acceptance and understanding of differences in colour, Race, Creed, religion and of course Sexual preferance

  • Naomi Goldwater AUSTRALIA

    Becoming a member of SSCV would show Scopus’ commitment to supporting its GBLTQR students and staff

  • Justine Kuran AUSTRALIA

    I don’t tolerate any minority groups being discrimated against on any basis!

  • Mark Cherny GAOTING TOWN, CHINA

    There should be no place for homophobia or discrimination based on sexual preferences or orientation within our community.

  • Tal Spinrad CLARINDA, AUSTRALIA

    I’m Jewish. Everyone deserves Kavod…everyone deserves to be treated as they were and are created in the image of G-d.

  • Michael Winn MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    I swam at Mt Scopus for 8 years, I know they’re a great school and can do a lot of good

  • Daniel Roitman AUSTRALIA

    As an alumni of this school, as well as the sibling of a gay alumni of this school, I feel it is crucial Mount Scopus gets with the time and provides every single student and teacher a safe environment in which they can thrive. This should be independent of sexual orientation, gender, ethnicity or anything else.

  • Benjamin Russell WOODFORD, AUSTRALIA

    As a gay student, I found life extremely difficult going to a school where homophobia was abundant. I would like all schools to be safer and more tolerant, which this petition will hopefully provide for your school.

  • Kerry Wolfe AUSTRALIA

    All children are entitled to a SAFE environment regardless of Race, Color, Creed or Sexuality !

  • Samantha Elsworthy MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA

    Growing up is a tough time. We, as adults, remember how hard it was. We need to create as many safe spaces as we can, and actively promote acceptance and love. Please take this small step, join the SSCV, because though it may not directly affect the adults at MSMC, it will mean THE WORLD to the students who you help. It will make their time at your school so much more enjoyable. Thank you.

  • Gregory Storer CARNEGIE, AUSTRALIA

    I have family attending the school, it would be good to know that they are in safe hands. These initiatives are important for the on-going safety and security of all students

  • Tahlia Hyams AUSTRALIA

    Mount Scopus should show its commitment to providing a safe and respectful campus environment for all gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and other queer students and teachers, and to take all necessary steps to ensure that its campus is a safe space for all, regardless of sexual orientation and/or gender identity.

  • Michael Barnett ASHWOOD, VIC, AUSTRALIA

    In particular, my niece and nephew are students at Mt Scopus and I want them to have the safest environment possible. No student should fear going to school because of bullying because they are different. The school must set the highest standard possible and protect all their students, immediately.

  • Megan Efron AUSTRALIA

    I came out when I was at Scopus, I think this is a good initiative.

Media Release: Government gives $20K grant to promote inclusive communities to homophobic organisation

ALEPH MELBOURNE
MEDIA RELEASE: GOV’T GIVES $20K GRANT TO PROMOTE INCLUSIVE COMMUNITIES TO HOMOPHOBIC ORGANISATION
JULY 13 2012

J-Wire reports [1] the Institute for Judaism and Civilisation (IJC) [2] has been awarded a $20,000 grant to produce a teaching manual of the shared values of Christianity, Islam and Judaism to strengthen resilience against violent extremism.  Aleph Melbourne welcomes government grants of this nature and sees them as a valuable opportunity to further relationships between religious communities.

Attorney General Nicola Roxon describes of the Building Community Resilience grants program [3]:

We want to support local projects to build stronger, more inclusive communities. … Grants such as this will fund practical new activities to assist individuals and communities to resist and disengage from intolerant ideologies and encourage positive community participation.

Director of the IJC, Rabbi Dr Shimon Cowen, is on the record in his 2012 submission to the Senate on “homosexual marriage” [4] as inferring that homosexuality is prohibited by God and that to allow any recognition of homosexuals is to show defiance to the universal ethics of God.

Cowen was also embroiled in a controversy earlier this year where he openly advocated for reparative therapy for gay people and that the anti-homophobic anti-bullying program Safe Schools Coalition Victoria be de-funded. [5]

Cowen’s stance is clearly at odds with this shared values program, which is described as funding “practical new activities to assist individuals and communities to resist and disengage from intolerant ideologies and encourage positive community participation.”

Cowen and the IJC have blatantly demonstrated an intolerance of homosexuality.

Michael Barnett, Convenor of Aleph Melbourne said, “By allocating this significant grant to such an organisation that fosters intolerant homophobic ideologies is a slap in the face to all same-sex attracted Jews, Christians and Muslims who are trying to gain acceptance in their respective communities.  Further, it sends the message that homophobic intolerance is acceptable.”

Federal MP Michael Danby has commended Cowen and said that this grant will allow the faith communities to explore their similarities and avoid extremism.

Barnett said, “The irony of the situation is that followers of ultra-conservative religious perspectives common to Judaism, Christianity and Islam, people like Shimon Cowen, believe that practitioners of homosexuality are sinners who should be shunned and actively discouraged from acting on their innate sexual orientation.  Some extremist viewpoints of these religions go so far as to say such people are worthy of death.”

Barnett calls on Danby and Roxon to revoke the $20,000 grant allocated to the IJC on the grounds that the IJC is a proponent of intolerant ideologies and to reallocate the funds to organisations that embrace diversity.

Further comment available from Michael Barnett on 0417-595-541.

[1] http://www.jwire.com.au/teaching-manual-to-be-produced-on-shared-values/
[2] http://www.ijc.com.au/
[3] http://www.livingsafetogether.gov.au/newsandblog/Pages/Building-resilient-communities.aspx
[4] http://aleph.org.au/2012/04/03/jewish-submissions-to-senate-enquiry-on-marriage-equality/
[5] http://aleph.org.au/2012/02/10/the-homosexual-anti-bullying-program-for-schools-an-unconscionable-strategem-afa-journal-vol-32-no-2-2011/


Update – January 5 2013 & October 5 2015

Since this media release was issued the AG web site link has changed. The new grants program page can be viewed http://www.livingsafetogether.gov.au/newsandblog/Pages/Building-resilient-communities.aspx. Details of the grant application in question can be viewed in full here and summary here.