POSITIVE POLICY

Safe Schools: Supporting LGBTI Students

Every Australian student deserves to be treated with respect and dignity at school – so they can learn free from bullying and discrimination.

Unfortunately, school is still a very difficult place for far too many LGBTI Australians:

  • Eighty per cent of LGBTI students face verbal abuse and bullying at school [1].
  • Only one in five LGBTI students attend a school where they feel supported [2].
  • LGBTI young Australians are six times more likely to die from suicide, with bullying and exclusion major factors in suicide attempts [3].

Labor funded the national rollout of the Safe Schools program in 2013 to address the serious issues of bullying and poor mental health among young LGBTI Australians.

Every time bullying occurs in our schools, it distracts students from their learning and saps them of their potential.

Already, 545 schools with over 400,000 students have chosen to take part in the program [4]. Safe Schools is supported by Beyond Blue, The Black Dog Institute and headspace.

Despite the Liberals’ initial support for Safe Schools, Malcolm Turnbull has caved in to the extreme elements of his backbench and cut funding for the program from 2017. This coincides with his unnecessary, damaging and divisive plebiscite on marriage equality – which will only make life harder for young Australians coming to terms with their sexuality.

Labor will invest $6 million over three years from 2017-18 to continue the Safe Schools program and support the Foundation for Young Australians to keep working with school communities to reduce bullying and discrimination.

Labor will work with schools and experts to make sure the program is based on the most effective strategies to reduce bullying, includes best-practice parental engagement and meets the needs of young Australians. Labor will implement the program in line with the findings of the independent review.

Labor will put the interests of vulnerable young Australians facing bullying and discrimination first.


[1] National LGBTI Health Alliance, LGBTI People Mental Health & Suicide, 2011.

[2] Hillier et al., Writing Themselves In 3, 2010.

[3] National LGBTI Health Alliance, LGBTI People Mental Health & Suicide, 2011.

[4] Foundation for Young Australians, Safe Schools Coalition, 2016.