Victoria protects its children

May 6, 2015 by David Marlow
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The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) has been facilitated the JCCV Child Protection Policy Training Program aimed to help Jewish community organisations, schools and synagogues  establish effective policies and practices to help protect children from child sexual abuse.

Participants

Participants

 

The program teaches the participants t0 better understand the risks, and includes assisting organisations to understand the dynamics of child abuse and how it occurs in organisations, identifying what to look for, red flags, prevention processes, addressing breaches of policy and dealing with reports and allegations. Staff and volunteer recruitment, screening and induction strategies to minimise risks to children and young people also included.

Following a successful start in 2014, over 60 participants from 20 different organisations the JCCV Child Protection Training Program is continuing throughout 2015. Over 12 organisations have been already participating in the 2015 Child Protection Training Program and the goal is to ensure all Jewish schools, as well as most organisations – will complete the training by mid-2015.

New Child Protection Policy Workshops for participants from 2014 who have requested ongoing support and consultation in policy development are being held this year as well, and the difference in awareness within those organisations has been incredible.

Child protection expert Katherine Levi, former CEO of the Australian Council for Children who delivered the training said “I sincerely believe that children in Jewish organisations around Melbourne are significantly safer from the scourge of child abuse than they were a year ago. This is because Jewish organisations from across the political and religious spectrums have worked together, to engage in learning about the dynamics of child abuse and how to prevent it.” 

By working closely with members of community organisations, we are witnessing a significant development that has not yet been replicated on such a large scale in other communities.

“There is however more work to be done in this area”, Katherine continues. “Organisations can never be complacent about protecting children who expect to be safe. Organisations have a moral, ethical and legal duty of care to protect children from all forms of harm. The seeds have been sown over the past year and this is an excellent and encouraging start. I encourage those who have not participated in the program yet to join us on this journey.”

Katherine welcomed JCCV`s commitment and everyone who participated in the workshops. Also acknowledged was the JCCV Child Protection Reference Group which was appointed by the JCCV back in 2013 and consists community members who have had a long history and involvement in Child Protection, including Jewish Care and the Australian Jewish Psychologists.

Andrew Blode, Chair of the Group added “The Victorian Inquiry into the Handling of Child Abuse by Religious and Non-Government organisations “Betrayal of Trust” and the ongoing Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Abuse”, highlights that organisations must not accept that they are immune from predators.  Unfortunately, what both Inquiries have revealed, is that organisations who provide services to children are targets and, in addition, those organisations who are unable to identify the signs of abuse or ill equipped to deal with it, face devastating consequences all round.”

“Established Child Protection Policies are not the sole answer, but continuous learning and education on the subject by organisations and the community as a whole is.  Abuse of children, whether it is neglect, sexual, physical, or emotional, occurs in both organisations and domestic settings.  As a community, we must continuously educate ourselves on the topic, open our eyes to the subject and aggressively commit to change our attitude without being hysterical.”

Among the participants of the Training were:

  • Schools and educational bodies such as Adass Israel School, Yeshivah Beth Rivkah College, Bialik College, Mount Scopus Memorial College, King David School, Yesodei Ha’Torah, Leibler Yavneh College, Lamdeni, UJEB and KaTeeny ELC
  • Synagogues including Caulfield Hebrew Congregation, Chabad Malvern, Spiritgrow, Temple Beth Israel, Leo Baeck Centre, Hamerkaz Shelanu and Kehilat Nitzan
  • Welfare organisations such as Emmy Monash Aged Care and Jewish Care
  • Community organisations such as Progressive Judaism Victoria, Hatzolah, Jewish Museum of Australia, Lamm Jewish Library, Maccabi Victoria and JTAFV
  • Youth groups including Camp Sababa, Habonim Dror, Hineni and Netzer.

None of this could have happened without the generous funding support given by donors who have helped subsidise the costs of the workshops for our community:

  • Jack & Robert Smorgon Families Foundation
  • Gandel Philanthropy
  • Pratt Foundation
  • Jagen Pty Ltd.

Jennifer Huppert, President of the JCCV said, “Having such an overwhelming participation from the community required the JCCV to extend the training in 2014 into two workshops, instead of the one planned. This in itself is a clear indication that a cultural change is achievable. We are proud and satisfied to see synagogues and schools – from every spectrum of our community having understanding that we must commit to achieving best practice in protecting our children.”

 

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