Victorian mother ‘disturbed’ by Bernardi’s Safe Schools email reply

Melbourne mother of two Pia Cerveri has spoken publicly about receiving an email response from Senator Cory Bernardi about the federal government’s controversial Safe Schools program.


Ms Cerveri had sent the Senator an email outlining her support for the program, and her hopes to raise her two young children in a society which was more accepting and inclusive.

She says she received an email response from the Senator’s office – signed CB – within half an hour, telling her she clearly hasn’t “got any idea what is in the program,” and if she did then she would be worried about her children “being exposed to unhealthy ideas at such an early age”.

The email says the Safe Schools program, which was recently recommended to be downsized following an independent review which found that some of its material was not age appropriate.

Mr Bernardi took to social media to confirm he sent the email.

@shalailah Yes.

— Cory Bernardi (@corybernardi) March 23, 2016

Ms Cerveri, who is in a relationship with a woman, told SBS it took a moment for the response to register.

“I was very shocked because, firstly, I’ve never had a politician reply that quickly, and I did have to read it twice to make sense of it,” she said.

“I first read it and I couldn’t compute what it was. The tone and the content was so appalling, I found it hard to compute that an elected representative in parliament would reply to a person in the community in that way. 

“And also (that he) would make the kind of comments he did, about my parenting, my children’s chances, based on my parenting, as well as the bizarre link he made about the book.”


Ms Cerveri, who works for the Australian Services Union as a women’s officer, didn’t reply to the email and decided to share it on social media.

“I don’t feel personally offended or affronted,” Ms Cerveri said.

“The tone and the content I find highly disturbing and distressing because of what is says to young people and children, who either are LGBT or are children of parents who are, that’s the bit that concerns me. 

“If he can say that to me, without knowing anything about me, it’s a kind of sanctioning, or bullying… which is exactly why we need a Safe Schools program.”

Mr Bernardi has been a firm opponent of the program.

SBS has contacted Mr Bernardi’s office for comment.