School Bus Incident – one offender dealt with

December 10, 2014 by J-Wire Staff
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Last August’s Randwick bus incident in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs which saw a busload of Jewish schoolchildren terrorised by five drunken teenagers, had an aftermath within the Juvenile Justice system this week.

A signed bus stop outside Moriah College

A bus stop outside Sydney’s Moriah College

One of the offenders, who cannot be identified as he is a minor, was ordered to participate in a “Youth Justice Conference”, along with various participants – a 12-year-old Jewish child who was a victim of the abuse and her parents; NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive officer Vic Alhadeff representing the other victims; a police youth liaison officer; a social worker; the offender’s parents; and a convener.

The Conference was held as a result of the incident on August 6 when a group of inebriated youths boarded a bus carrying Mount Sinai College, Moriah College and Emanuel School pupils and intimidated them with threats of slitting their throats and chants of “Kill the Jews”, “Heil Hitler” and “Free Palestine”. They also pointedly sat among the pupils, some of whom were as young as five and many of whom were terrified and in tears, frantically calling their parents.

Typical Sydney school bus...not the one involved

Typical Sydney school bus…not the one involved

Held under the NSW Young Offenders Act 1997, the Conference was designed to enable the offender to understand the impact and consequences of his  actions; to give the victims an opportunity to question him on issues of relevance, such as motive and state of mind; to have interested parties such as parents and the social worker voice their opinions; and to invite the victims to suggest actions and outcomes which would provide a sense of restorative justice in the aftermath of the offence.

The Conference opened with the offender articulating what had occurred, including his own role, followed by questions put to him by the child and her parents. Alhadeff then elaborated on the impact of the offender’s actions, both on the children who were on the bus and on the Jewish community itself. “When we hear people say ‘Heil Hitler’, we take it seriously,” he said.

All present were then invited to voice their thoughts and to question the offender. After an hour-long discussion, Alhadeff was asked to suggest a course of action, which he did in consultation with the victim’s family.

The suggested outcomes – which were formally accepted by the offender and therefore carry a legal obligation to be carried out – comprise a guided two-hour of the Sydney Jewish Museum, which he will undertake with his parents and social worker, followed by participation in the Board of Deputies’ “Respect, Understanding, Acceptance” school harmony program.`

In addition, it was recommended that the offender and his family attend a family Shabbat dinner and read Primo Levi’s “If This Is A Man” and Elie Wiesel’s “Night”.

Alhadeff told the offender that the Conference would hopefully mark “the first day of the rest of your life; hopefully, you will use this experience to turn your life around now and you will grow from this and become a leader.”

“The Conference provided a measure of closure to the young girl who was present,” Alhadeff commented. “It gave her an opportunity to question the offender, to hear from him and to hear him express remorse for his actions. At the same time, he could hear directly from some of those affected as to the impact of his actions. I believe it was a constructive process.”

There were no repercussions for two of the other juveniles…the remaining two received cautions.


2 Responses to “School Bus Incident – one offender dealt with”
  1. Eleonora Mostert says:

    Wrapping them up in cottonwool again? When will people be held responsible for their actions? This will not teach them but encourage them to do even worse, hey we’ll get away with murder. Please take the kit gloves off for once.

  2. sheree waks says:

    does anyone know why “There were no repercussions for two of the other juveniles…the remaining two received cautions.” One would think they (and the victims and wider community) would all have benefited from their participation in a similar Youth Justice Conference and subsequent programme

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