Media Centre
President's Report

President's Report

11 August 2014

ECAJ Submission for Child Protection Support Initiative

David Marlow and I, representing JCCV, Yair Miller, representing NSWJBD, Bill Appleby for Jewish Care (Vic) and Rabbi Yaakov Glasman for RCV attended a meeting with the Hon. Kevin Andrews MP, Federal Minister for Social Services to advocate for a national child abuse support service, to be delivered through Jewish Care in Victoria and in NSW, with support to other States. There is a need in the community for a co-ordinated professionally operated support scheme for survivors of child abuse and Jewish Care is both able and prepared to operate this, subject to receipt of funding.

David Marlow, with assistance from Bill Appleby and Clare Vernon (Jewish Care NSW) prepared a submission on behalf of ECAJ to the Federal Government for funding for the initiative and we are awaiting a response.

Israel

Over the past few weeks, our community has been preoccupied with what has been happening in Israel and Gaza and we hope that the current ceasefire will be maintained beyond the initial 72 hour period and indeed, lead to peace in the long term.

Whilst most of our thoughts and anxiety has been focused on Israel and on its efforts to protect its citizens from constant rockets and the terrorist threat posed by the tunnels, there have also been local concerns, particularly about the ugliness surrounding the pro-Palestinian rallies and the outburst of antisemitic vitriol.

The Sydney school bus incident, although at this stage it looks like an opportunistic rather than a planned incident, has caused grave concerns, making us fully aware of the ugliness that can so easily upset the balance of our daily lives.

Communal security, which is always alert to the risks which our community can face, has been heightened and you will be briefed on these matters at the Plenum by Simon Glynn, head of CSG Victoria.

Whilst we must always be cognisant of the risks and take the appropriate measures and advice, we at the same time need to acknowledge that the environment in Australia, and particularly in Victoria, is far less hostile than in many parts of the world and that we are fortunate to have bi-partisan support for Israel from State and federal politicians and strong political condemnation of antisemitism.

Racial Discrimination Act (RDA)

The Government will not proceed with the proposed changes to the Racial Discrimination Act 1975 (the Act) and will not repeal sections 18B, 18C, 18D and 18E of the Act.

The decision has been based on “preserving national unity on the essentials”.

There is little doubt that the response to a government review, combined with the very strong and united reaction of communities and faith groups, played a significant role in the decision.

More than 76% of 4100 submissions to Attorney-General George Brandis' draft changes to the Racial Discrimination Act are reported to have been opposed to the proposal, with only 20.5% of submissions being in favour of the proposed changes and 3% called for a complete repeal of all racial discrimination protections.

Much effort was expanded by the Jewish community in helping to achieve this result, particularly by ECAJ and JCCV.  David Marlow, the JCCV Executive Director, was particularly active on behalf of the JCCV and was able to bring together a broad coalition of communal and faith organisations to issue joint statements.

Claims Conference Board Meeting

At its annual Board meeting in New York in July, the Board decided that, for as long as there are Jewish Nazi victims, the organization’s focus will remain on dealing with the immediate needs of Jewish Nazi victims worldwide, including providing homecare, food, medicine and other services for vulnerable survivors and an estimated $390 million has been allocated for those purposes for 2015.

The Claims Conference also put in place a new Board structure. A new Leadership Council has replaced the previous 22-member Executive Committee “in order to meet the future governance needs of the organization, promote accountability and support efficient decision-making.”  We congratulate Robert Goot on being elected as one of the officers of the Leadership Council, on which he will be a great asset.

Australian Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry (AFRJ)

The AFRJ is part of the World Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry, which is committed to promoting and strengthening the ties of Russian speaking Jewry to Israel and to Jewish heritage. Other countries which are part of the Forum are Israel, the United States, Canada, and a number of European and Former Soviet Republic countries.

The launch was a very successful event and AFRJ has applied to become an affiliate of JCCV, a move which I very much welcome, bringing an important section of our community into the formal communal structure.

Meeting with Minister Matthew Guy

Minister Matthew Guy called a meeting for representatives of the JCCV, the ICV and the VMC to discuss harmony and the need to refrain from making public statements which are inflammatory and can cause incitement to violence. JCCV was represented by Jennifer Huppert, David Marlow and myself. The background was the statement issued by ICV (copy attached), which was both inflammatory and egregiously inaccurate.

Chin Tan, Chairman of VMC issued a VMC statement which sought to smooth the waters, but which in itself was very problematic, in the first instance, because it made a political comment and in the second instance, because it was not balanced. I had a very heated discussion with Chin Tan when his statement was sent out, which was prior to the meeting with the Minister.

Chin Tan assured me that there was no intention to be biased and I accepted those assurances, but pointed out to him that words are taken at face value, not analysed for their intention and that carelessly chosen words can do a great deal of harm.

I repeated this message at the meeting with the Minister.

ADC Gandel Oration

Congratulations to ADC on an excellently organised and well-received Oration. The professionalism of the event was a tribute to the work which went into the planning and organization of the evening.

Kynnections 2014 Launch at King David School

The launch was very successful with Minister Kevin Andrews, KDS Principal Marc Light and the Principals of the other participating schools, Kate Dishon from Catholic Regional College Caroline Springs, and Nick Scott from Maribyrnong Secondary College,  addressing the participants on the importance of tolerance and understanding and the role of the program in enhancing our society.

The 2014 leadership program for Jewish, Christian and African Muslim students has a broader focus, with mosaic workshop, cultural awareness through cooking and parliamentary process sessions on the agenda.

The participation of JCCV has been greatly appreciated, both at the steering committee level and by the Federal Government, as has the participation of Mt. Scopus College and Bialik in 2013 and King David School this year. In the event that the program continues next year, I suggest JCCV should continue its involvement.

Leadership Conference - The changed paradigm of Leadership and Philanthropy

The JCCV together with Australian Jewish Funders propose to bring back to Melbourne Andres Spokoiny, President and CEO of the Jewish Funders Network of USA.

The conference will cover areas such as re-evaluating traditional ideas of leadership, engaging next generation philanthropists, attuning community organisations to new social trends and other topics dealing with effective leadership and community engagement.

There will be two workshop sessions, one for Board leaders and one for professional staff and if you have not already done so, please register your interest with Jo Silver at JCCV as soon as possible.

Rights and Responsibilities of Elderly People Forum

Given the demographic of our community, in order to better understand the rights and responsibilities of elderly people, David Marlow has organised a JCCV Forum to take place on 20 August 2014 at Beth Weizmann, with speakers including Gerard Mansour, Commissioner for Senior Victorians and Associate professor David Fonda, Geriatrician, as well as speakers on advocacy, the law and social welfare.

Babi Yar Commemoration

On 28 September 2014, at the Jewish Holocaust Centre, JCCV is co-hosting together with Australian Forum of Russian Speaking Jewry, Kangarusski and Russian Sunday School LIDER, a Babi Yar Commemoration to remember those lost in the Former Soviet Union, the decimation of Ukrainian Jewry and celebrate the survivors.

Council of Presidents Meeting

Council of Presidents Meeting will be held on 15 September 2015 with the sole focus of looking at where our community is heading and where it perhaps should be heading. Graeme Samuel AC, Leah Balter, Michael Naphtali AM and Dr. Jackie King will discuss communal strategy and our vision for our community.

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