'A lot of work to do'

Swastika drawn inside Sandringham College

The Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) was alerted to a Nazi swastika carved near the entrance to Sandringham College's school hall.

The swastika was found carved into glass at the Sandringham College school hall.
The swastika was found carved into glass at the Sandringham College school hall.

A Nazi swastika has been found carved into a glass wall near the entrance to Sandringham College’s school hall.

The Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC) was alerted to the vandalism by a parent at the school late last week who was shocked by the symbol.

ADC chair Dvir Abramovich said drawing the Nazi swastika inside a school, “a shelter where students and staff of all ethnic and religious backgrounds should feel safe and welcomed, is beyond indecent”.

“Imagine the fear and pain a Jewish student, especially one with Holocaust survivors in their family, would feel seeing this public declaration of bigotry,” Abramovich said.

“This is another reminder that we have a lot of work to do to educate young people about the dangers of intolerance, in particular, given that acts of violence, harassment, insults and intimidation against Jewish students are escalating and keeping many parents up at night,” he added.

Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) president Daniel Aghion urged Sandringham College “to act swiftly to remove any antisemitic or extremist symbols from school property to avoid causing harm to students and the broader school community”.

“It is deeply regrettable that the Jewish community continues to receive reports of hateful acts in Victorian schools. However, the JCCV does not agree with the hyperbole of others that Victorian public schools are ‘a no-go zone’ for Jews,” said Aghion.

“The JCCV will be writing to the principal at Sandringham Secondary College to ensure she is aware that a new antisemitism training program is now available for all Victorian government school staff to help understand, identify and address antisemitism when it arises in schools,” he said.

Sandringham College principal Amy Porter told The AJN it was a “lighting issue” that caused the swastika to go unnoticed by staff, as the symbol was carved into glass.

“We don’t have any CCTV or anything in that area, and I think it was probably done overnight, potentially, during the school holidays; we can’t actually pinpoint when it was done,” Porter said.

“I don’t think I can track down who’s done it,” she said.

Porter also noted that she spoke with Abramovich about how to deal with the issue and was advised not to speak to the Jewish students alone.

“We will be putting a statement out to all classes next week,” she said, adding, “We’ll talk through it, and then get our students to give us suggestions as to how we can improve.

“We have a zero tolerance policy, so if we catch a student doing anything, we do deal with it swiftly.”

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