Jewish Care, The Age: victim speaks

February 12, 2016 by J-Wire
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The ongoing story of the stoush between Melbourne’s Jewish Care and local newspaper The Age has taken a new twist with child sexual abuse Manny Waks posting a statement from a victim whose identity has allegedly been compromised.

The Age had published an article entitled “Yeshivah Centre Abuse Victims Fear Bullying, Intimidation” which was responded to by Melbourne’s Jewish Care as published in J-Wire.

The person from whom the bullying claim was sourced has now spoken out in the following statement published on Waks’s blog.

The statement reads

“The response published this evening by Jewish Care Victoria (JCV) concerning today’s article in The Age entitled ‘Yeshivah Centre Abuse Victims Fear Bullying, Intimidation’ is incredibly disappointing.

It reads more like some of the responses to victims which were routinely issued by Yeshivah prior to the Royal Commission than that of an organisation with a 168 year history of ‘providing vital support for those who are most in need’. It amounts to no more than placing the interests of an individual who has clearly acted inappropriately, ahead of the institution. In so doing, JCV has hung victims, by whom it has unquestionably done wrong, out to dry.

There are numerous inaccuracies in the response but at this point, the following should be noted:

  • Mr. Appleby, Jewish Care CEO, has been aware since February 2015 that the author of the e-mail was a victim;
  • Even so, the argument that a victim is obliged to broadly disclose their sexual abuse or risk having sensitive concerns which they have raised with JCV being leaked to third parties is absurd;
  • During the Royal Commission hearing into Yeshivah, numerous ‘leaders’ sought to defend their bullying and harassment of victims by arguing they did not know that the person was a victim at the time;
  • No explanation is offered as to why the e-mail was leaked;
  • No mention is made of whether the JCV Board conducted an investigation into the conduct of the Board Member in question and whether that investigation was conducted in accordance with its Board Governance Policies as per the assurances it provided;
  • No mention is made of whether there was concern that the Board Member in question may have breached their duties concerning the improper use of information or their duties of good faith and proper purpose as contained in the Associations Incorporation Reform Act 2012;
  • No mention is made of concerns raised about the independence of the Scheme with the Board Member in question prior to the email to JCV which they subsequently leaked;
  • No mention is made of the fact that the Board Member in question responded to concerns raised by providing assurances that they would not sit on the Board of JCV and Yeshivah at the same time and offered to step down from the Yeshivah Board in the interests of the Scheme.

​Finally, it is manifestly untrue to suggest that ‘the content of the email only raised an issue of perceived governance concerns’. The e-mail stated: ‘Some victims will not disclose their abuse to JCV while a Member of the Committee of Management of Yeshivah is on the Board. Accordingly, I can state categorically that [Director’s Name] ongoing presence on the JCV Board will prevent some victims from accessing the redress they need and this is a tragedy.’

The same concerns have been raised by several victims on several occasions with JCV and have been ignored. As a consequence, victims are in fact avoiding the scheme, as has been accurately reported by The Age. And JCV is positioning itself between victims and the redress which they have finally been offered and in which they are so desperately in need.

The JCV Board needs to urgently review its approach to this matter and start acting in a manner befitting it’s wonderful history before it backs itself into a corner from which it can’t get out.

My message to JCV is this: Engage with victims instead of alienating them, take the only appropriate action in respect of the offending Board Member and get back to doing what you do best – supporting the most vulnerable members of the community.

The article in The Age is 100% accurate and The Age should be applauded for standing up for victims as they always have.

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