In bowing to a misinformed scare campaign led by Cory Bernardi, Malcolm Turnbull has today put the views of extremists in his party ahead of the interests of vulnerable young Australians facing bullying at school.

It says a lot about Malcolm Turnbull’s priorities that he is reviewing an $8 million program and saying absolutely nothing about the impact of ripping $30 billion out of education.

The Foundation for Young Australians is a respected organisation with a strong track-record of working hard for young Australians, including through the Safe Schools Program.

Labor introduced the Safe Schools Program to address serious issues of bullying, exclusion and suicide in LGBTI youth.

What Malcolm Turnbull and the extremists in the Liberal Party need to recognise is that we live in a country where:

  • 80 per cent of Australian same-sex attracted and transgender students face verbal abuse and bullying at school;

  • Only one in five LGBTI students attend a school where they feel supported;

  • Same-sex attracted and transgender young Australians are six times more likely to die from suicide, with bullying and exclusion major factors in suicide attempts.

Shadow Minister for Education, Kate Ellis, said that this is an absolutely unacceptable situation, and it is why Labor took action to fund this vital program.

“It isn’t good enough to stick our head in the sand. Every time bullying occurs in our schools, it distracts students from learning and saps them of their potential,” Ms Ellis said.

“Schools participate in the program on a voluntary basis, and choose how they present material to meet the needs of their students.”

As with all school programs, materials should be age-appropriate and parental engagement is key.

“There are many programs in schools to support the welfare of young people, including programs on cyber safety, eating disorders, and respectful relationships.

“This is another example of Malcolm Turnbull saying one thing before he became leader and doing another thing now he is Prime Minister because of his failure to stand up to the right wing of his party.”