No one has ever been able to sufficiently explain to me why it was decided that the best person to give advice on the health of the human body was a giraffe but, nonetheless, Healthy Harold played an integral role and nostalgia-tinged role in our childhoods.
I fondly remember seeing Harold’s trailer (or one of Harold’s many trailers, I’m still not sure how that works entirely) parked in the school parking lot at the start of the day and knowing that, for at least a portion of the day, we would get to miss normal classes and sit in an enclosed space and let an ungulate puppet tell us about the food pyramid.
Healthy Harold is the mascot of Life Education, who have been teaching kids in Australia about health and safety for roughly 35 years. Their future might be a bit shaky though, with the revelation that their funding has been discontinued as of the most recent budget.
In a statement released this afternoon, Life Education said that their proposal for a renewed contract had been rejected:
“The recent news that our 2017/18 Budget Submission was unsuccessful now finds Life Education defunded by the Australian Government for the first time in ‘literally decades’.”
With their current contract with the government to finish on July 1, they were (as they always had in the past) relying on the government to fund a new one:
“Our 2017/18 Budget Submission was seeking $500,000 pa for 3 years, representing an important contribution to the cost of a range of functions critical to the effective and sustained delivery of the Life Education program to an increasing number of children each year.
“The Australian Governments defunding decision will require us to materially revise our expectations of what is achievable in the short to medium term. While it will be challenging for us, this cut will be most felt by the many children and their teachers and parents in school communities right across Australia that will now be denied access to our program.”
Life Education says they were taken aback by the rejection:
“The Australian Government has been a long term provider of funding to Life Education, primarily in support of the work of its National Office. This saw over $500,000 invested in Life Education by the Australian Government in 2016/17.
“By all accounts the Government was very happy with this investment, particularly the program development work undertaken which better enables us to respond to needs in primary school communities in relation to illicit drugs such as Ice.”
Fingers crossed Healthy Harold will be able to continue on in some form despite this setback.