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Dr CARLING-JENKINS (Western Metropolitan) — My question is for the minister representing the Minister for Education, Ms Tierney, and concerns the implementation of the Safe Schools program in specialist schools. According to the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria website there are four specialist schools that have signed on to the program. One of these schools caters for children with complex intellectual disability from 3 to 18 years, another for young people who are current mental health clients. The education department has confirmed that the implementation of this program is compulsory in specialist schools, despite opposition from disability experts and advocates, who believe the concepts being taught are inappropriate for students with disabilities. 

Minister, the parents of children attending these schools are yet to be formally informed that their schools have implemented this program, and many found out via Rebecca Urban's recent article in the Australian. It can be difficult enough to negotiate schooling for children with disabilities without being blindsided by papers knowing more about the curriculum being taught than they do. So I ask: why does the Andrews government, which claims transparency in other areas, continue to ignore parents rights to know what is being taught to their, in this case, children with disabilities?

Ms TIERNEY (Minister for Training and Skills) — I thank Dr Carling-Jenkins for her question. This is a question that you have very, very strong views on and you have raised this matter a number of times. Today it is in relation to special schools; I accept that. Obviously I will refer that matter onto the Minister for Education for a response to you.

Dr CARLING-JENKINS (Western Metropolitan) — Thank you for your answer, Minister. I look forward to a response. My supplementary is: given that disability advocates and experts believe that the content of the Safe Schools program is inappropriate for children with particularly complex intellectual disabilities, when will the Andrews government stop this program from being mandatory in specialist schools?

Ms TIERNEY (Minister for Training and Skills) — Again, I am sure the Minister for Education, Mr Merlino, will answer that question with an answer to the substantive question.


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