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Asian Australians need to unite and support the Safe Schools Program

By Erin Chew

Recently a petition was distributed, signed and tabled on behalf of various Asian community groups in NSW. According to media reports it was coordinated by the Chinese Australian community. The petition was urging the NSW State Government to scrap a program called the “Safe Schools Program”, which aims to support schools who, in community consultation, choose to make their school a safer, more inclusive space for all students. It teaches values that are core to all cultures, like respect and acceptance for all students, including LGBTIQ students.

This is an anti-bullying program that skills teachers to help students to understand what it feels like to be in another person’s shoes, experiencing discrimination. This program teaches techniques to minimise discrimination, improve students’ resilience and learn respect for each other. Currently the Safe Schools Program has been welcomed in over 500 schools all across Australia. The results from teachers, school psychologists and mental health professionals have provided solid evidence that this program produces healthy, positive results for the wellbeing of all students. In many cases, this program has been life-saving, especially in suicide prevention. While continuous, regular reviewing of all school programs is welcomed, no professional research has ever stated that the program be stopped or be defunded.

It’s odd that there are Asian Australian communities so hell bent against this anti-bullying program considering it is our moral imperative to ensure a more just Australia that celebrates differences and promotes a culture of diversity and inclusivity.

The Safe Schools Program is there to support all Australian students no matter what backgrounds they may come from or any other aspects of their identity. Homophobia and transphobia is as damaging as any other prejudicial attacks. When fear of difference is allowed to continue, all forms of phobia flourish, including racism and xenophobia. This is not what the Asian Australian community who has worked so hard to fight against injustice and discrimination wants. Racism, bullying, transphobia, are all based on the same ignorant attitudes and prejudices as each other.

Unchecked racism affects all Australians regardless of background, just as unchecked homophobic bullying affects all Australians. Many Australians have keenly experienced incidences of discrimination based on race. This discrimination shares the same roots of cultural misunderstanding, pressures to conform to institutional violence, ignorance and intolerance. Discrimination in any form leads to poor health outcomes, low productivity and social disenfranchisement.

The scare-campaign petition being tabled in the NSW Parliament in the name of the entire Chinese Australian community is outrageously presumptuous and does not represent the broader Asian community. Recent reports have unfortunately mislabelled the entire Chinese Australian community as being opposed to the Safe Schools Program. This reporting is inaccurate and false propaganda by individuals whose only wish is to incite fear and tear communities apart.

Erin Chew is Convener of the Asian Australian Alliance, and Asian Australian Alliance Women’s Forum.



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  1. Steve Laing -

    It is indeed odd when migrants adopt the same irrational bigotry to the next wave of migrants, or some other minority, as they were subjected to. You would think there might be some empathy, but I suspect selfishness is a more base instinct.

  2. jim

    Smells like right wing/IPA behind this IMO.

  3. paulwalter

    Conservatism..dead wood of history piles up and attempts to head things in the right direction are nobbled.

  4. Sir ScotchMistery

    Have to agree with Jim I’m afraid. How often does one see an Asian family involving itself in politics, unless it’s to take a federal member to China or India for a wedding expecting nothing in return of course.

  5. jimhaz

    Well some Asians here are devote Christians – you can bet that is the group generating and exaggerating this.

  6. wam

    my china-plate is a 5th generation Australian but is often asked where he comes from.
    My mum is a scot and my grandad was a pom but I am an Aussie?
    Sad isn’t it?????

  7. Simon Chen

    School for gay kids in Australia. Does this include baby trannies too?

  8. Sir ScotchMistery

    “Baby Trannies”? WTF is a baby trannie? You mean a gender questioning child? Seriously? You actually don’t see an issue with “baby trannies” as an expression? Perhaps you’re a boltist Simon, without the intellect to even have a clue why that may be a tad out of shape with the thinking of thinking voters (no I don’t mean liarberals. They can’t really help how they’ve been raised).

    Now piss off back to Epping you cretin.

  9. Dark Bovine

    There is a flawed assumption that, merely because socially liberal people tend to welcome migrants, that those migrants are socially liberal. Australia is one of a small number of socially liberal societies in the world today. Most nations and cultures are not of the same mindset.

    A good friend, who is now many years past transition and surgery, was told by a young doctor of east Asian background that she would have to go elsewhere for hormones because that doctor did not feel comfortable dealing with people like her. The doctor need only have written a prescription for the same hormones she has been on for a decade or so.

    These incidents make some of us socially liberal people worry about our high levels of immigration. We have come so far in the past century or so, and it terrifies people like me that we might lose that progress because of a desire not to offend those arriving here, or to confidently assert that we are a liberal society. Let’s not become the punchline to a joke about a tolerant society that tolerated its own downfall into intolerance.

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