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Jewish Groups Act On Abuse Following Royal Commission

Jewish Groups Act On Abuse Following Royal Commission

17 February 2015

THE Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse is spurring stronger child protection policies and practices across Jewish schools, synagogues and community groups, a move welcomed by the Jewish Community Council of Victoria .

But Glen Eira’s Manny Waks, founder of Tzedek, a Jewish victims advocacy and support group, said a broader shift in community attitudes was also needed.

Mr Waks said child ­protection policies were improving since the Commission opened and the former cases of sex abuse at St Kilda East’s Yeshiva College were made public. But he said some segments of the Jewish community were still reluctant to confront the issue of child sexual abuse.

“There are conflicting ­responses in terms of how to address the issue,’’ Mr Waks said.

“There is also, in places, a reluctance to properly ­support victims, especially those who decide to address it directly with the ­institutions. In these cases, victims can be made to feel uncomfortable coming forward.

“Attitudes need to change because this is a significant barrier to getting justice for past crimes but also in terms of prevention (of ­future abuse).’’

JCCV president Jennifer Huppert said the council “strongly advises all ­community organisations to implement effective child protection policies”, and ­ensure that these were ­communicated to all staff and parents.

She said by mid-2015 all local Jewish organisations responsible for children will have completed ­extensive training programs dealing with child protection.

“We strongly urge ­community organisations to implement what they have learned and for the ­community to insist that these organisations ... can demonstrate to them they have a policy and abide by it,’’ Ms Huppert said.


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