In 2010, the Victorian Government established Safe Schools to ensure schools are safe places for all students, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) students, and are free of discrimination.
It was born out of the need identified by school communities, parents and teachers for greater support for LGBTI students, who are at higher risks of bullying and suicide, and to ensure that schools create safe and inclusive environments.
A key part of the program is to provide professional development and training for secondary school teachers so that they are equipped to support LGBTI students.
The Safe Schools program is managed and delivered directly by the Department of Education and Training.
What is Safe Schools?
The Safe Schools program helps schools foster a safe environment that is supportive and inclusive of LGBTI students.
It recognises that creating a safe and inclusive environment is key to tackling bullying and harassment, and preventing suicide and self-harm.
All students should be safe from bullying and feel included at school. Students who don't feel safe or included at school cannot learn effectively and reach their full potential.
Safe Schools is not a subject taught in the classroom and it is not a part of the curriculum.
It is a program for principals, teachers and school communities.
Schools have the discretion to use as many or as few of the resources, training materials, and other support that the program offers to help them deliver their commitment.
The Victorian Government has committed to expanding the program to all government secondary schools by the end of 2018. Non-government schools and primary schools can also access support from Safe Schools.
Why Safe Schools?
Safe and inclusive schools benefit all students and are key to students reaching their full potential.
National and international research shows that positive school environments lead to better academic results, increased confidence and better attendance at school. Research also shows that, right now, many LGBTI students face negative experiences in Australian schools.
The third national study on the health and wellbeing of LGBTI young people found that:
- 61 per cent of LGBTI young people report experiencing verbal homophobic abuse
- 18 per cent report physical homophobic abuse
- 69 per cent report other types of discrimination, including exclusion and rumours
- 80 per cent of respondents experienced the reported abuse at school.
To review and/or download the report, see:
LGBTI people have the highest rates of suicide and attempted suicide of any population in Australia.
Suicide attempt rates are six times higher for same sex attracted young people than their heterosexual peers. The average age of a first suicide attempt is 16 years - often when they have come out to themselves but have not told anybody else. 
LGBTI young people at schools where protective policies are in place are more likely to feel safe compared with those in schools without similar policies (75 per cent compared with 45 per cent). They are almost 50 per cent less likely to be physically abused at school, less likely to suffer other forms of homophobic abuse, less likely to self-harm and less likely to attempt suicide. 
If you are in need of immediate support, please contact one of the following services:
- Lifeline Australia 13 11 14
- Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800
- Headspace 1800 650 890
- QLife 1800 184 527
- for emergency medical assistance, please call 000.
How does Safe Schools work?
Schools choose from a range of evidence-based and age-appropriate information, resources and professional learning to help them prevent, and respond to, bullying and discrimination based on sexual orientation, gender identity or intersex status. This could involve a review of school policies and practice, professional development for school staff, or establishing a student led group to help create a more inclusive environment.
School principals take into consideration the views of their school community, including their parent and student representative groups, when determining the best approach to implementing their commitment to being a safe school.
How does my school become a safe school?
The Safe Schools Unit can work together with your school to build safer and more inclusive environments for your whole school community.
To start this process, schools can contact the Safe Schools Unit or download:
The Guide to make your school safe and inclusive for LGBTI students provides different ideas and actions schools can use in creating a safe school. See:
The Government expects schools across Victoria to ensure the safety and inclusion of all students in their care, including LGBTI students, and is providing support through the Department of Education and Training - including through ongoing delivery of the Safe Schools program - to enable them to do so.
You may also wish to contact your local school directly to discuss their approach to LGBTI inclusion and support.
Safe Schools support for schools
Staff at Safe Schools may access support and advice on matters like how to:
- satisfy the Department's policies regarding sexual and gender diversity and Victorian and Australian anti-discrimination legislation
- prevent and respond to bullying incidents of LGBTI students
- adopt a whole-school approach to preventing discrimination, harassment and bullying
- create supportive and inclusive school policies
- train staff on creating supportive spaces for LGBTI students
- develop student-led activities to create positive, inclusive change, and
- equip other staff with skills and ideas to create inclusive environments.
As part of their efforts to establish a safe and inclusive environment, schools determine what their needs are, what resources they should use, and how best to support their community.
Safe Schools resources
The Department of Education and Training has developed the following resource to build schools’ understanding of the Safe Schools program and to guide their efforts to support LGBTI inclusion in their community:
The Department regularly consults with schools and key stakeholders to ensure the program continues to meet the needs of schools and their communities. This includes considering any further resources and supports that may be required.
Myths and facts
From time to time, ill-informed and false information is circulated about the Safe Schools program. Select a myth below to learn the facts:
 Rosenstreich, G. (2013)
LGBTI People Mental Health and Suicide. Revised 2nd Edition. National LGBTI Health Alliance. Sydney, p. 3.
 T Jones and
Western Australian Equal Opportunity Commission (2012), A report about
discrimination and bullying on the grounds of sexual orientation and gender identity in Western Australian education, p 11.