Young people in the Australia state of Victoria who suffer bullying because of their sexuality will have a local support network as part of a proposal by the Victorian Greens Party.

Under their plans, support groups should be funded in each of Victoria’s 79 local government areas.

Greg Barber, the Greens Education spokesperson said: “Growing up is hard, growing up lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender is even harder. Support is needed and must be locally available to every school student in Victoria.

“A number of successful support groups have sprung up in different parts of the state but funding is intermittent. These groups provide support to youth, but many raise awareness as well. We need to build these awareness campaigns and link them to school anti-bullying programmes.

“The Education Department needs to take the lead with properly run anti-bullying policies and support. Calling someone a ‘poofter’ in the play ground should be treated as seriously as if a student throws a rock through a window.

“Policies on paper won’t make a difference – it requires an effort by the whole school community. This will also benefit gay and lesbian teachers.”

“VicHealth must get involved because of the serious effects of bullying and discrimination on same-sex attracted youth. Either the local council or community health centre should auspice the group (as some do now), with the state government providing the funding. Around $100,000 per local government area is required,” said Greg Barber.

“Programmes like these help reduce depression, social isolation, drug use and youth suicide, these programmes don’t just benefit a small group of people, but the whole community, parents, siblings, friends, colleagues and anyone who gains from dealing with self-assured and happy people.”