The Salvation Army Supports Safe Schools Initiative

November 17, 2016


The Salvation Army Supports Safe Schools Initiative


The Salvation Army supports the Safe Schools Coalition Victoria in its initiative designed to reduce homophobic and transphobic behaviour and create safe learning environments for all students. The Salvation Army is concerned by the very high level of bullying, higher levels mental health issues and the highest rates of suicidality of any group in Australia for same-sex attracted and gender diverse young people. The Salvation Army’s Victoria State Council (VSC) has been aware of the negative claims about the Safe Schools program and its related materials but believes these to be unfounded.

Chair of VSC, Major Dr Geoff Webb says “Our social policy unit has reviewed the official teaching resources provided by the Safe Schools Coalition and the four official guidelines. It has also studied the independent review commissioned by the Australian government, together with other materials. None of the negative claims made about the program accurately reflect anything in the official materials reviewed.

“Provided schools adhere to official teaching resources and the official guidelines, there should be no issues with Safe Schools. We support the provision of safe learning environments for all students,” Webb says.

Dr Webb notes that a Federal Government independent review found that the four official guides are consistent with the aims of the program and are appropriate for use in schools. “Our findings are consistent with the government’s review,” Webb says, “and the resource All of Us is consistent with the aims of the program, is suitable, robust, age-appropriate, educationally sound and aligned with the Australian Curriculum.”

The Salvation Army in Victoria has welcomed the Andrews Government commitment of additional funding to ensure that every Victorian secondary school is involved in the Safe Schools programme by the end of 2018.


For further information, contact:
Geoff Webb (Chair, The Salvation Army Victoria State Council)   0400 251588
The Salvation Army Media Unit  (Emma Daniell)  0437 830 550

My grandmother’s Rhodesian jacaranda

November 2, 2016

jacaranda-paintingFor as long as I knew her, my grandmother had a painting of a jacaranda tree hanging in her house.

I have been particularly fond of jacarandas all my life because of this painting, and when I see the rich purple flowers I think of her.

Living in Melbourne I see the occasional jacaranda but when I was in Sydney a few years back, I saw that the trees are everywhere, particularly on the North Shore, and they make the place look magical.

I decided to look up ‘jacaranda’ in Wikipedia and I found a photo from 1975 of the trees in Salisbury, Rhodesia. This is exactly where my grandmother lived. I opened up the photo to full size and saw a large avenue with jacarandas in full bloom, running the entire length of the street. And then I realised something.

The painting of a jacaranda hanging in my grandmother’s house wasn’t just a painting of a tree. It was a door into her life after she moved from England to her adopted country, where for thirty or so years she raised a family, ran businesses, loved and lost love, and farewelled her family when they emigrated to Australia. Despite joining her family in Melbourne in 1975 and living here until her death three decades later, my grandmother’s heart and home remained in Rhodesia.

And then my mother told me the painting was actually one my grandmother had commissioned, of a jacaranda on the tobacco farm my father had worked on. Dad told me the scene – of the tree and the distant hills – was the view from the kitchen window of the little cottage he lived in.

I realised this painting kept alive my grandmother’s connection with a life in another country, a place and time which in many ways no longer exists, and yet will always be there.

(Published in “In Their Branches“)

More homophobic abuse by Paul Winter tolerated by J-Wire publisher Henry Benjamin

September 29, 2016

On an J-Wire article about the offensive Bill Leak “Waffen-SSM” cartoon, Paul Winter again pours more fuel on the fire of bigotry and intolerance:


How much more of Paul Winter’s hate is J-Wire going to permit?

Would it permit anti-Semitic vilification?  Holocaust denial?  Anti-Zionist sentiment?

All comments are moderated by publisher Henry Benjamin, so he knows exactly what is appearing on his site.

Not good enough.

Homophobic violence and the Jewish Orthodox double standard

September 9, 2016

The Age of Blasphemy

Yishai Schlissel 2d528

In Jerusalem less than a year ago, an ultra-Orthodox Jew named Yishai Schlissel, who had already publicly declared his loathing of homosexuals, wildly assaulted participants in a Gay Pride parade with a long kitchen knife. Before police could stop him, Schlissel had stabbed six of the “blasphemous” marchers, one of whom – a sixteen-year-old girl – later died from her wounds.

Schlissel claimed he was acting on behalf of the Torah – which forbids homosexual intercourse – but an Internet poll conducted by the ultra-Orthodox Kikar Shabbat website found that only 13% of respondents believed ultra-Orthodox Jews owed anyone an apology for the attacks, even though the community’s leaders had long condemned gays as criminals, or worse.

Speaking for the majority, Chaim Brizel – “the sexton of a Jerusalem synagogue,” who referred to the event Schlissel ravaged as the…

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The Suicide Epidemic in the ultra-Orthodox Jewish Community – 76…more?

September 9, 2016



Keeping Count of the Dead…

In June of 2016, the Yeshiva World News published the article that follows. As of that week, the Orthodox community was already mourning 75 deaths.

That number has since increased by a mother, Esti Weinstein (z”l), who documented her suicide in painstaking detail. The number has grown by the Brooklyn man who hanged himself, Yakov Krausz (z”l), “whose body was discovered…in an elevator motor room.” [] Krausz’s death had been the 26th in New York, reported. With yesterday’s news of Feige Greenwald’s (z”l) death it is hard to tell where we are in the macabre count.

In July of 2014, the New York Times picked up the Weinstein story.  The editor of the story wrote profoundly:

The level of criticism and ridicule by secular Israel on the ways and habits of the Haredi community will determine the long-term impact of Ms. Weinstein’s tragic…

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Shimon Cowan – Western Civilization, No Homosexuality, Bigotry and A Letter

September 4, 2016



Dear LM:

I have a couple of suggestions for you about the Shimon Cowan article (“Rabbi urged to face facts about sexuality”.) The suggestions are relevant if you have the ability to amend past posts. If not, just ignore them.

  • You have posted the AJN article about the reaction to Cowan’s book as a .jpg image. I have observed that it is too small to read properly at its original size and, if you enlarge it, the resolution is too poor to read it enlarged. Why don’t you upload the pdf copy of the article (which has a much better resolution) to your site and turn the jpg image into a clickable link that can be used to download the pdf or open it in another browser tab. To facilitate that, I am attaching the pdf for you.
  • Please see my comments below:

The rabbi who is the subject…

View original post 662 more words

Peter Wallace, Australian Conservative Party

August 31, 2016

This threatening tweet by Peter Wallace appeared on Twitter today:

Peter Wallace threat Aug 31 2016

Peter Wallace represents the Australian Conservative Party, as their About page advises:




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