The following media statement from the ECAJ, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies, and the Jewish Community Council of Victoria concerns the formation of an ECAJ National Working Group.
The formation of the ECAJ National Working Group follows the announcement from the Australian, NSW and Victorian governments that the National Redress Scheme will be introduced first in NSW and Victoria, commencing July 1, 2018.
To download this media release in PDF format, click here.
Anton Block, President
ECAJ National Working Group
Anton Block, President of the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ), has announced the formation of a national working group “to determine what action the ECAJ, its constituent and affiliate bodies and other Jewish organisations should take in the wake of the recent Report of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child sexual abuse”.
“In recent years, the ECAJ, the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and Rabbi Mendel Kastel of Jewish House have done much good work to address the problems that were highlighted in the Royal Commission hearings”, Mr Block said.
“This has included workshops and training seminars for both decision makers and staff, and accreditation with recognized government agencies of policies and practices so as to protect at all times children in the care of Jewish organisations, and to bring about changes in attitudes and culture so as to ensure that any report or information about a possible incident of abuse is reported to the authorities immediately, and that there is total community and organisational backing for victims, their families and supporters. We now need to build on that work.”
Mr Block said he was “delighted” that Professor Bettina Cass AO had agreed to chair the ECAJ’s national working group. “Her knowledge of the issues, and experience in engaging with stakeholders including Tzedek, individual survivors and the government sector, make her the ideal person to head the group”.
Professor Cass told The AJN she felt honoured to head up the group, whose other members are former Board of Deputies President, David Knoll AM, CEO of the Jewish Community Council of Victoria, David Marlow and Melbourne lawyer, Anton Hermann.
“At its AGM in November, the ECAJ adopted a detailed policy to prevent child sexual abuse in the community”, Professor Cass said.
“Tzedek and individual survivors were consulted beforehand and indicated their support for the policy, which will set the agenda for our group. We need to consider what more the ECAJ and the State roof bodies can do on a range of issues”.
Professor Cass said that the group would consult closely with experts and stakeholders, including Tzedek and individual survivors and Rabbi Kastel, to recommend what the ECAJ and State roof bodies can do to:
- monitor and check whether Jewish community organisations which have the care of children have adopted and implemented appropriate standards of child protection and are taking a preventative, proactive and participatory approach to child safety issues, so that the safety and wellbeing of children in each of their organisations is a paramount consideration in their policies and operations;
- work together with other Jewish organisations including Tzedek to develop a best practice model of Jewish Professional Standards on Child Protection;
- encourage Yeshivah and Adass in Melbourne, and Yeshivah in NSW to each publish an apology to people who were abused as children while in their care; and
- encourage Jewish community organisations which have the care of children to join the National Redress Scheme.
“Above all,” Professor Cass concluded, “there has to be a decisive break with past practices and cultures. We owe it to survivors and to our whole community to demonstrate that we have learned from previous mistakes”.
Anton Block | ECAJ President
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