Brighton Principal: the school responded appropriately to every instance of anti-Semitic behaviour we have become aware of

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Dear Parents/Guardians, Staff and Students,

As you will be aware, there has been some recent, very negative, media reports about the school.

A number of people, particularly from our Jewish community, have contacted the school to ask why we have been almost silent on the matter so far. They sensed that our silence was an acknowledgement of culpability.

Believe me, in respect to the allegations, on behalf of the school, I would love to pen an impassioned, detailed, and spirited defence of them.

Unfortunately, I cannot.

When individuals make allegations against an institution, the response, by definition, has to be institutional.

The Minister for Education has announced an inquiry into the matter and, of course, the school will co-operate fully with it.

I am confident the inquiry will find that the school responded appropriately to every instance of anti-Semitic behaviour we have become aware of.

The school has proudly served our Jewish community for many years, and is well connected to it.

We have hosted an active, and long-standing, Jewish Student Network group at the school.

In May last year, I represented the school at the Glen Eira Council “Together We Stand” breakfast against discrimination, which featured Dr Dvir Abramovich of the Anti-Defamation Commission, as the key speaker.

This breakfast was key in building our understanding that anti-Semitism was again on the rise in our society, and informed subsequent actions taken by the school to ensure we remain vigilant of it, and stamp it out when we find it.

You may recall that, in November last year, I wrote to students and parents about the rise in the scourge of anti-Semitism.

At that time, I also briefed staff to be extra vigilant, and to show zero tolerance of it, and I personally spoke at every year level assembly about it.

This was as a direct, and immediate, response to a concerned family.

Our core school values include respect and empathy.

I have spoken on many occasions at school assemblies (sometimes to my detriment) about the fundamental requirement to respect our fellow human beings, regardless of any individual attribute they may have, and about the creeping rise of narrowmindedness, intolerance, and bigotry in our society.

We, like all parts of society, have to constantly battle with a small percentage of people who, for a wide variety of reasons, display bigoted and discriminatory attitudes and behaviours towards others.

I am confident our school is, overwhelmingly, a safe place for our students, because we see comparatively little of this behaviour, do not tolerate it, and actively seek to stop it.

For now, this is all I can share with you on the matter.

The workings of the inquiry, and its findings, are not mine to disclose, but the school looks forward to the opportunity to share the considerable amount of information we have with it.

Yours sincerely,

Richard Minack

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