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President's Report

President's Report

03 March 2014

JCCV Child Protection Reference Group

The community response to the JCCV Child Protection training program has shown that with perseverance and a targeted approach, cultural change can be achieved.

When the JCCV appointed a Child Protection Reference Group, we hoped to make a difference, but did not expect that change would be as swift and as dramatic as it has been.  Over 60 people, representing 20 Jewish community organisations attended the first day of the JCCV Child Protection training program, which had to be split into two sessions to accommodate the participants.

Every spectrum of our community was represented, including schools, synagogues, welfare  and sport, and the interaction and response was extremely positive. There will be four more training days over four months to help the community to better understand the risks and establish effective processes, policies and practices to help protect children from the risk of child sexual abuse.

The training is being delivered by child protection expert Katherine Levi, who has twenty years of experience working with youth at risk.  Katherine was CEO of the Australian Council for Children and Youth Organisations (ACCYO) for four years and CEO of Big Brothers-Big Sisters for six years.  With a Masters in Social Work, Katherine also developed the concept and content of the Safeguarding Children Program.

The course includes the following topics:

  • Child sexual abuse in organisations
  • Identifying risks to children and young people in an organisation context
  • Recruitment, screening and induction strategies to minimise risks to children and young people
  • Child sexual abuse allegations, policies and practices workshop

An Overview of the Jewish Festivals

JCCV has produced a booklet “An Overview of the Jewish Festivals”. The booklet, which will be launched at the Plenum meeting, is an extremely useful tool in providing information to Government, to the Police, to health professionals, to interfaith and multicultural bodies, as well as to the wider community, about the basics of Judaism, about the historical background of Jewish life in Australia and about our festivals.

JCCV acknowledges and thanks the Victorian Multicultural Commission, Golds World of Judaica and FBI Travel for jointly funding the booklet.

Four Corners Story

The Four Corners Story caused strong reaction, both from the Jewish community, and the general community. My statement is  on our website and also appeared in AJN, in Shtetl Voice and on J-Wire.

Following the program, there were many racist and antisemitic comments on the ABC website and on its Facebook page. ECAJ lodged a protest that the ABC took too long to delete the offensive material. This was strenuously denied by Sue Spencer, Executive producer, Four Corners, ABC TV, who stated that anti-Semitic material was removed in a timely manner. Ultimately, it became a matter of what was considered antisemitic.

National Gallery of Victoria Palestine posters exhibit

Following complaints to JCCV and to ZCV about an exhibit in the current “Melbourne Now” exhibition at the National Gallery of Victoria (NGV), Sam Tatarka and I met with Tony Ellwood NGV CEO and the artist, Tom Nicholson. The exhibit is an installation “Comparative monument (Palestine)” which consists of 9 posters which express a clear political view which in our view is pejorative and historically inaccurate. Visitors to the National Gallery of Victoria are invited to take the posters.

We argued that it is not a legitimate function of the NGV to exhibit and disseminate one-sided and clearly biased political propaganda.

An offer was made at the meeting by Tony Ellwood that we could post on the archive website our comments on the exhibit, however, the artist was to have a right of reply. We rejected this offer, as we considered that the artist’s point of view had already been clearly expressed in his work, and if our comments were to be the subject of yet another commentary from the artist, no balance would be achieved. This matter is still under discussion.

In the final analysis, the point was made strongly to the NGV that it needs to take greater care with politically sensitive material, and that point was taken.

The Age online

On 9 February 2014, “The Age” online published a story with the headline” Man charged with murder after body found in Kew”. Towards the end of the story, the following appeared: “The incident occurred in one of Melbourne’s wealthiest areas, which is home to multi-million dollar Kew Hebrew Congregation.”

I wrote to the editor of “The Age”  objecting to the blatant stereotyping of linking wealth with Jews and pointing out that proximity to a crime cannot be offered as an excuse for the stereotyping of a group or religion. It is not a matter of public interest that there is a synagogue in the vicinity of where the crime occurred unless it has direct bearing to it.

We received a response from Mark Forbes, the News Director, stating that he agrees that the reference has no bearing on the story and that he had removed the sentence complained of and spoken to the staff.

Professional Networking and Development

On 27 February 2014 Adam Slonim facilitated a workshop on “Information Overload - Time and Productivity Management”.  The session was extremely well-received and by request, a further session with Adam Slonim is planned for later in the year.

These sessions are attracting a wide cross-section of the community and from the uptake, it is clear that they are considered to be a valuable contribution to professional development and to networking.

Forthcoming JCCV Events

  • Politicians Jewish Familiarisation Day – 7 March 2014
  • JCCV Plenum on 7 April 2014 – Guest Speaker Polish Ambassador, HE Pawel Milewski
  • Jewish -Indian Community Dinner –10 April 2014
  • Yom Ha’Shoah Commemoration – 27 April 2014
  • Yom Ha’Shoah Memorial Service at Carlton Cemetery – 4 May 2014
  • Council of Presidents meeting – 19 May  2014
  • Babi Yar Commemoration – 28 September 2014
Forum on Rights and Responsibilities for Elderly People – date to be advised

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