Melbourne’s Jewish Care to investigate historic institutional child abuse cases

November 15, 2013 by J-Wire
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Jewish Care Victoria has established an independent support scheme to thoroughly investigate historic claims of institutional child abuse at children’s homes run by predecessor Jewish welfare organisations.jewishcaremne“Three people have contacted us indicating that they were abused in residential care in the 1960s,” the President of Jewish Care Victoria, Mike Debinski, said.

“Our primary concern is for the welfare of anyone who may have experienced abuse. We will assess all claims and are offering services such as counselling, case management and support.

“Importantly, this support will not remove the right to pursue any further legal action.”

The Board of Jewish Care Victoria has established an independent scheme headed by eminent jurist and academic Professor Louis Waller AO.  Acting pro-bono, Professor Waller will oversee the assessment team led by John Leatherland PSM, who won a Public Service Medal for services to vulnerable families and children. The assessment team will have full access to any available records and personnel.

Professor Waller said he endorsed the strong moral position that Jewish Care had assumed and its genuine concern for the welfare of the three people who had come forward, and any others who may.

“Jewish Care Victoria’s process will ensure that those who report complaints are promptly heard. Its responses will be marked by decency and compassion, and made in the framework of Jewish precept and principle,” Professor Waller said.

Mr Debinski said that while the residential facilities concerned no longer existed, Jewish Care Victoria was involved because it had a moral responsibility given the history of previous Jewish community organisations that operated the homes.

“It is simply the right thing to do,” Mr Debinski said.

“The Board and management of Jewish Care Victoria condemn any form of child abuse, particularly when it is perpetrated by those in positions of trust and authority.

“Jewish Care Victoria is guided by our critically important ethics and organisational values. Our approach to this matter is underpinned by our ethos of kindness, family, respect and charity.

“We do not seek to sweep this issue under the carpet. We are working with media and community organisations to reach out to anyone who believes they may have been sexually or physically abused in children’s residential care between 1939 and 1992 to come forward so we can assess and review their claims.

“We will fully cooperate with all relevant authorities and do everything in our power to ensure that these allegations are thoroughly assessed.”

Anyone in the Jewish community who experienced physical or sexual abuse in these homes should make contact on the special free call number 1800 112 522. Alternatively, contact may be made via email to supportscheme@jewishcare.org.au. All calls and emails received will be treated in strictest confidence. Further details are on our website at www.jewishcare.org.au/supportscheme.

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