The ADC has expressed disappointment with several of the findings contained in a confidential report into the antisemitic incidents at Brighton Secondary school which the ADC revealed earlier this year.
The report found that Jewish students “experienced BSC to be a hostile environment and suffered genuine distress as a consequence” and that “students even expressed the view these attitudes are fostered and encouraged by the school staff and principal”
However, surprisingly, the report concluded that when antisemitic harassment was brought to the attention of the school administration, its “management of the incidents of antisemitic bullying raised by the students and families who participated in this inquiry was adequate”.
It also found that “the “school is active in its attempts to address antisemitism and any other forms of intolerance” though this “had little impact on the small number of students responsible for antisemitic bullying”.
In addition, the report found that “Where reports are made by students, the school investigates and where these are substantiated, it takes appropriate disciplinary action in response”
The report did find that there were “barriers in place to stop students or bystanders from reporting such abuse.
Dvir Abramovich, Chairman of the ADC said:
“While we welcome some of the new initiatives recommended, It is highly disappointing that despite the substantive evidence given by the victims about the systematic failures to deal with antisemitism at Brighton Secondary College, that the report did not find that the school leadership had not done enough to call out this hate, and was indeed partly responsible for the toxic and hostile culture.
I am not sure, following the incidents at Cheltenham Secondary, Hawthorn West Primary and Brighton Secondary College that we are in a better place than a year ago, and that public schools are safer environments for Jewish students.
Today, for some Jewish students, attending a public school is nothing short of a nightmare.
Lives have been ruined because schools administrations have failed their students.
I fear that such a hostile environment and the proliferation and cumulative effect of the slurs, Holocaust taunts, harassment and violence against Jewish students may lead to suicide.
Many young people I spoke to, who feel socially isolated at school, told me they hate themselves for being Jewish.
And while I welcome the suite of announcements made by the government and their adoption of my proposal for a racism reporting hotline, I fear that they have not fixed the wrongs of the past and have not brought about the systematic change needed to deal with the endemic antisemitism that still pervades Victorian schools.
To date, I am not aware of a sweeping implementation of any new policies and practises to address the outrageous behaviour and the horrific bullying of Jewish students.
And though nothing will take away the injury, the brave students and parents who were willing to bring the light the injustice they suffered are still waiting for the schools to acknowledge the hurt they have caused.
If we don’t want current and future Jewish students to suffer the same trauma, the culture of schools, and the attitude of teachers and principals, who often look the other way and are deliberately indifferent to the suffering of Jewish students, must be seriously addressed.”