The Safe Schools Coalition Victoria (SSCV) will receive a $100,000 one-off grant from the state government.

SSCV coordinator Roz Ward said the grant would keep the program running for another 12 months.

“It’s good news that we can keep this very important program running,” Ward told the Star Observer.

“We just need to ensure that funding continues.”

Ward said it was crucial the program be given recurrent funding to encourage more Victorian schools to take part in the anti-homophobia initiative.

“It’s difficult with a program like this, to target schools across Victoria and especially rural Victoria if we have to reapply for grants every year,” she said.

Since its launch last year, SSCV has enlisted 31 schools across Victoria to encourage anti-homophobia environments for students to learn.

SSCV has also developed a resource booklet – Supporting Sexual Diversity in Schools – which has been sent to every school in the state.

The program operates in partnership with the Foundation for Young Australians and was born out of the Rainbow Network, a coalition of people who work with same-sex attracted and transgender youth.
The SSCV was initially funded to the tune of $80,000 for one year by the Victorian Department of Education and Early Childhood Development.

Ward said the Rainbow Network also needs urgent funding to continue its work – its current funding is due to run out at the end of the month – and hopes the Baillieu Government’s promise of $4 million to deal with suicide prevention strategies for same-sex attracted youth will come to the rescue.

Victorian Education Minister Martin Dixon said the Government intends to continue the Safe Schools program, saying all students should be educated in safe school environments.

“Our support for Safe Schools Coalition Victoria is an important step in ensuring that school communities have the resources and confidence to challenge homophobia and respect diversity,”  Dixon said.

“It is vital that we work together to tackle and reduce homophobia, transphobia and heterosexism within school communities and ensure schools are safe and supportive places for all young people.”

Supporting the grant, Prahran MP Clem Newton Brown said homophobia could have “potentially tragic” consequences for young people.

“We have a duty of care to all young people to make sure that they are safe, accepted and happy as they go through their school lives, regardless of their sexual orientation.” Newton Brown said.

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