VICTORIAN Premier Daniel Andrews has been commended as a strong leader for committing to support the Safe Schools program if the Federal Government were to decide to cut its funding.

Andrews today announced the Victorian Government would make up the “shortfall” of funding in the state should Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull decide to make some cuts to the $8 million funding the program currently receives.

“We’ll lock that funding in at a state level — because if it saves just one life, it’s worth it,” he said in a statement on Facebook.

The Safe Schools program is an opt-in program for schools around Australia to provide resources to teachers, parents and students about issues LGBTI students may face at school and how to best support them.

The program came under attack by far right Liberal Senator Cory Bernardi, among others, who started a petition to remove its funding. Another far right Liberal backbencher, George Christensen, compared the Safe Schools program to that of pedophile grooming children.

In response to the pressure from the backbench the Prime Minister called for a review into the program, whose results were delivered to Education Minister Simon Birmingham and Federal MPs last night.

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The Victorian Premier’s announcement follows what has been described as “tantrums” by Christensen and a few other Liberal MPs who labelled the results of the review as a “joke” and called for a full parliamentary inquiry.

“This review was pointless to begin with and now we’ve got coalition MPs throwing a tantrum because they don’t like the outcome,” said Senator Robert Simms, the Greens’ sexuality spokesperson.

“They need to put the safety and well-being of LGBTI young people ahead of their political ideology and stop their homophobic crusade against Safe Schools.

“The Greens will fight any moves to cut funding to this vital program and will continue to stand up for Safe Schools and the young people and families the program has helped.”

Fellow Greens Senator Janet Rice said: “The government could review the Safe Schools Coalition until the cows come home and it will still come back with what we already know — Safe Schools works.”

Meanwhile, LGBTI youth organisation Minus 18 has had an increase of young people reaching out to them in distress since the attacks on Safe Schools began.

“Climate for young people is really tough at the moment,” Minus 18 chief executive Micah Scott said.

“I worry about their resilience. They’re having homophobia and transphobia acted publicly by their supposed leaders.

“If Malcolm Turnbull can’t shut them down, what hope do we have?

“Young people are feeling attacked, which they are. It’s discouraging to have your rights spoken about while being shut out.”

Scott was happy with Andrews’ commitment to Safe Schools and said he was sending a “meaningful and strong” message not just to the LGBTI community but also to the wider community that this was a program worth supporting.

“That’s the message we’d like to see sent,” Scott said.

“It’s amazing to see a leader stand up and speak out against homophobia and transphobia and be a leader. It’s disparaging to see Malcolm Turnbull cave into conservative lobbyists.”

Scott said people could support Safe Schools and young LGBTI people by writing to their local MPs via the #INEEDSAFESCHOOLS website to counter the hundreds of emails they get daily attacking the program.

Support for the program has also been conveyed from multi-faith group of clergy leaders who started a petition to urge the PM to keep Safe Schools funded. A link to sign their petition is here.

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