Parents of Jewish Kids Subjected to Antisemitic Bullying at Australian School ‘Disappointed’ by Official Report
Parents of Jewish children subjected to antisemitic bullying at a school in the southeastern Australian city of Melbourne have expressed disappointment with the results of an official inquiry into their ordeals.
The inquiry was launched in the summer following a investigative report by The Australian Jewish News into Brighton Secondary College (BSC) in Melbourne.
The paper discovered an extensive list of bullying claims “that spanned years, with one Jewish student said to have been lured to a park where he was robbed and beaten at night, and another allegedly threatened with a knife in a school bathroom. One boy said he was told to ‘Get in my oven’ and had ‘Heil Hitler’ chanted at him. Countless instances of swastikas were said to be daubed on school walls and property, and allegations of inaction were directed at the principal and coordinators.”
As a result of the inquiry commissioned by the education department in the state of Victoria, BSC accepted a number of recommendations, including the introduction of an online form for students to report antisemitic behavior; monitoring of all school facilities to check for any antisemitic or discriminatory graffiti and ensuring its urgent removal; and a prompt review of school policies, broadening the definition of racial harassment to incorporate religious discrimination and vilification.
However, lawyers for the parents of affected students expressed regret that the report did not hold the current leadership of BSC to account.
“Despite finding that the students involved in the inquiry experienced a hostile environment and suffered genuine distress as a consequence, the report found the school’s response to be adequate,” a lawyer representing the parents told The Australian Jewish News.
“This is despite the fact that the majority of the students involved in the inquiry have had to leave Brighton Secondary College due to the level of antisemitic bullying they experienced there, the college’s failure to protect them and the impact on their safety and mental health,” the lawyer, Jane McCullough, said.
“The families do not believe that the report and its findings go in any way far enough towards combating a significant problem of antisemitism at Brighton Secondary College, nor does it provide an acceptable outcome or justice for them,” McCullough added. “The families will continue to fight to be heard and for justice for their children.”