Questions Without Notice: LGBTI Community

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran) — My question is to the Minister for Education. Research shows that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex young people have higher rates of mental health issues and suicide and that there is a clear link between discrimination and poor mental health. What will the minister do to ensure that all Victorian students, regardless of what type of school they attend, are protected by the law from discrimination?

Mr MERLINO (Minister for Education)—I thank the member for Prahran for his serious question. He is absolutely right that students from the LGBTI community and students who are questioning their sexuality are often the subject of bullying and are often the subject of bullying within the schoolyard, so he is absolutely correct in raising this issue. This is indeed an important issue, and one that the Andrews Labor government is very cognisant of. We made an election commitment last year to roll out the Safe Schools Coalition, addressing the issue of bullying and discrimination within our schools. We made a commitment to extend it and roll it out to every government secondary school in the state and, further to that, to encourage non-government schools, both Catholic and independent schools, to also take up the Safe Schools Coalition rollout.

I thank the member for his question. We have the first Minister for Equality in our government, which is the first time in Australia that there is a minister with such a responsibility. I am working in partnership with the Minister for Equality. We are rolling out this important program to every single government secondary school in the state. I am proud of that. I thank the member for his question, and I will certainly be continuing to ensure that we roll it out and see what more we can do in this space.

Mr HIBBINS (Prahran)—I have a supplementary question for the Minister for Education. Currently the law allows for religious schools to discriminate against staff on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. What will the minister do to ensure that all staff at Victorian schools, regardless of the type of school they attend or the type of job they have, are protected by the law from discrimination?

Mr MERLINO (Minister for Education)—I thank the member for his supplementary question. This is a matter for the Attorney-General, and I will be happy to explore these issues with the Attorney-General and get back to the member for Prahran.