Safe Schools Coalition co-founder Roz Ward has spoken out about conservative critics of Safe Schools who are now publicly defending George Pell following his conviction.
In a scathing piece for the Socialist Alternative’s Red Flag newspaper, Ward called out the “hypocrisy of [Pell’s] conservative supporters” in the wake of the guilty verdict.
“I knew there would be institutions and prominent individuals who would attack us. The Catholic Church was high on that list.”
Ward wrote that when Safe Schools began to come under sustained attack, she began to be bombarded with abuse.
“My work email and social media inboxes were full of messages calling me a paedophile and a sick pervert. Many said god would punish me for my sins,” she said.
“Miranda Devine and Andrew Bolt accused me of “sexualising children” and engaging in systematic “Marxist indoctrination”.
“Lyle Shelton, head of the Christian Lobby, said Safe Schools was akin to the Holocaust and Nazi mind control.
“Tony Abbott, then the prime minister, described Safe Schools as a “social engineering program” and called for our funding to be cut,” she said.
“These same people are now falling over themselves to defend a convicted paedophile and child molester.”
Pell was this week sentenced to six years in prison, with a non-parole period of three years and eight months.
Following Pell’s conviction, conservative columnist Andrew Bolt wrote that “the man I know seems not just incapable of such abuse, but so intelligent and cautious that he would never risk his brilliant career and good name on such a mad assault in such a public place”.
Miranda Devine, who last year claimed that trans women are “culturally appropriating” womanhood, wrote, “I don’t believe that Pell, who I know slightly and admire greatly, could be guilty of sexually assaulting two schoolboys”.
Safe Schools continues to operate in Victoria and in a modified form in Western Australia under the program name Inclusive Education.
It became – and still is – a major target for conservative pundits, who claimed it promoted “radical gender theory”.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison has said that he sends his children to independent Baptist schools in order to avoid them being exposed to material like that contained in the Safe Schools program.
“Safe Schools was a small program attempting to change school culture and attitudes for the better,” Ward wrote. “We were labelled child abusers for our efforts.”