Leaders speak out

‘Deeply troubling’ allegations

Photo: Dreamstime.com
Photo: Dreamstime.com

July 9, 2020

Zionist Federation of Australia president Jeremy Leibler and Zionism Victoria president Sharene Hambur today wrote to Victorian Minister for Education James Merlino to express their grave concern at the report in The Australian Jewish News, which alleged a sustained campaign of antisemitic bullying at Brighton Secondary College.

The report comes just six months after the Department of Education and Training finalised a review about allegations of antisemitism in Victorian schools last year.

That review’s recommendations included the creation of a dedicated contact desk for students and families to report antisemitic incidents, the establishment of an advisory group with representatives from Jewish groups and an urgent review of protocols in regards to how schools respond to antisemitic incidents.

Leibler said, “The Australian Jewish News’ story is very concerning. I welcome Mr Merlino’s forthright condemnation of all antisemitism and his announcement of a departmental investigation. In our letter to Mr Merlino, we noted that many of the recommendations of the previous investigation have been implemented, and requested an update as to their status.”

Hambur said, “It is deeply troubling that years-long antisemitic bullying took place with apparently no effective action from the school. That said, Mr Merlino has a history of strong leadership in regards to antisemitism and we look forward to the outcome of the renewed departmental investigation and the concrete action that will result.”

July 10, 2020

The Australia/Israel & Jewish Affairs Council (AIJAC) is extremely concerned about the serious allegations of appalling antisemitism over a number of years at Brighton Secondary College.

“What makes these accounts even more disturbing are allegations that staff not only failed to halt the antisemitic bullying, but participated in it, and that the concerns of the parents were allegedly ignored when taken to the principal and the Department of Education,” noted AIJAC executive director Dr Colin Rubenstein.

“We welcome the investigation that the Minister for Education James Merlino has announced. We urge him to ensure that it is conducted with the thoroughness and urgency warranted by the seriousness of the allegations, especially given this is not the first time very serious allegations of this nature have surfaced. We also request that the alleged victims and their families are kept informed, as Mr Merlino has undertaken, and that if the allegations are upheld, very strong action is taken.

“It’s crucial to send an unequivocal message that antisemitism is totally unacceptable and there will be zero tolerance for it,” Dr Rubenstein concluded.

JULY 14, 2020

JCCV president Jennifer Huppert said, “The JCCV is very concerned at the reports of antisemitic bullying experienced by students at Brighton Secondary College as reported in last week’s Australian Jewish News. Of particular concern is the report that the perpetrators of this bullying included teaching staff, as well as students. The reported behaviour is simply not acceptable.”

“While I welcome the statement by Education Minster James Merlino that he has ‘zero-tolerance approach to antisemitism’, I have written to Minster Merlino to express the concerns of the JCCV. I have since been contacted by the Minister’s office, and will be meeting him shortly to discuss the issues further.”

July 14, 2020

UJEB is shocked by the recent allegations of severe antisemitic bullying experienced by two Jewish students over several years at Brighton Secondary College. Antisemitism, along with all forms of racism, is simply unacceptable in our government schools, which must provide a safe and comfortable learning environment for students of all backgrounds, cultures and religions. With more and more Jewish students attending government schools, it is critical that they feel welcome and are able to flourish. 

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