Sweet, sweet news for everyone’s favourite Drug & Alcohol Aware™ giraffe: Healthy Harold has been saved from funding cuts.
Education Minister Simon Birmingham threw the mammalian puppet a bone following widespread tears and outrage as news broke of its imminent retirement yesterday.
“We support #HealthyHarold and will work with Life Education Australia to ensure the funding and the program continues,” he tweeted yesterday.
We support #HealthyHarold & will work with Life Education Australia to ensure the funding & the program continues
— Simon Birmingham (@Birmo) May 30, 2017
Healthy Harold is the mascot of LEA, which had been relying on state and federal government funding for 35 years to teach school kids about drugs and alcohol (i.e. not to do them), as well as dosh from private donors.
It received $500,000 in federal funding for the 2016/17 financial year, but announced yesterday that next year’s funding had been slashed to zero.
“This is quite … remarkable given the compelling need that exists across our community for strong, sustained and effective preventive health education,” said chief executive David Ballhausen in a statement.
However, the Education Department had earlier stated that LEA had agreed to become self-sufficient by July 1 this year, the ABC reports, making its shock at its budget rejection a tad overblown
Yesterday, social media lit up with people sharing stories about the do-gooder stranger who lured them into dark vans to talk about drugs, which may well have accounted for Birmingham’s turnaround. The power of nostalgia.
I went to Catholic school so Healthy Harold wasn’t allowed to talk about sex or drugs, he just told us not to be racist
— pastel twink (@twinkbahn) May 30, 2017
On our last visit with Healthy Harold in year 6 we were shown (at request) where the hand went into Harold and a girl burst into tears
— Bridie Jabour (@bkjabour) May 30, 2017
I remember when Healthy Harold came to school in year 6 and the kid with anger issues broke the puppeteer’s hand.
— Stuart Fazakerley (@stuartfaz) May 30, 2017
Harold is back from the dead, folks, which makes him the closest thing to Jesus this country’s got.