Victorian Community Report

November 24, 2010 by Geoffrey Zygier
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The Jewish Community Council of Victoria (JCCV) AGM  heard Dr Helen Szoke, Commissioner of the Victorian Equal Opportunity and Human Rights Commission speak about Human Rights and John Searle reflect on the achievements of the JCCV in his current presidency and aims for the future.

John Searle and Dr Helen Szoke

Dr Szoke, guest speaker at the AGM, spoke about the work of the Commission, the necessity to build a human rights culture and the further law reforms on the horizon. Helen noted how alike JCCV and the commission were in its aims such as promoting a better society through understanding and cooperation between all faiths and the facilitation of harmony and positive relationships between the various elements of the community  She also praised the JCCV for the work it has done in the area of prejudice motivated crime.

In John Searle’s report to the AGM, he said, “two years through my 3 year term as president it is appropriate at this AGM to reflect on our achievements to date and also to look forward into the next 12 months. In so doing, it is important to remember that five or ten years ago, the JCCV was cash strapped, not particularly well known and lacking in influence. Today it is truly an influential body, capable of representing our community at all levels and whose input is sought by government, police, the media and many other bodies.”

As an apolitical organization, Searle noted that relationships with government had improved markedly with the JCCV often called upon to provide advice to politicians and government departments. Searle said “it was telling of the relationship’s strength that key politicians also call me when there are issues facing our community, to see how we are coping.”

Searle outlined the success of his collaborative approach. “Functions are arranged with other communal organisations and issues are discussed together to the benefit of the entire community.” This collaboration extends to the enormous amount of interfaith work with other communities such as the Baha’i, Buddhist, Anglican, Catholic and Indian communities, with a highlight being the release of the interfaith guidelines. Originally intended for just our community, they have been promoted through the Ministry as a leading example to all communities.

Searle spoke highly of the Youth and Alcohol Project (YAP) and it being a great example of collaboration for the benefit of all. YAP held successful forums in schools for grade 6 pupils and parents and conducted a parent forum last week. Searle stated his wish “that as a community we can look forward to a time when Hatzolah is not called out regularly to pick up kids who have been binge drinking and lost consciousness with a real risk of injury or worse as a result.” He also thanked Debbie Zauder, the JCCV project officer for doing a great job.

Finally Searle said that ”the GLBT Reference group formed by JCCV, is continuing to work towards combatting discrimination, vilification and managing mental health issues for this community. The plan is to look at speaking with school representatives in regards to bullying issues.”

Looking Forward, Searle welcomed two new executive members, Matthew Lazerow and Helen Light AM whilst saying thank you and goodbye to Gerard Max, who is leaving due to work constraints. Searle also thanked the Victorian Multicultural Commission for funding the dream of a Jewish Library of Australia and enabling JCCV to move into the vacated Makor together with the B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission (ADC). Searle stated “this will allow the JCCV and ADC to function far more effectively for the benefit of the whole community.”

Searle has pledged to host more politicians’ lunches, conduct more interfaith activities starting with the Croatian community and expects to welcome more new affiliates next year in keeping with the JCCV’s policy of inclusion.


One Response to “Victorian Community Report”
  1. Bruce Llama says:

    How curious that John Searle says the GLBT reference group is continuing to work towards combating discrimination, vilification and mental health issues. They’ve been at it for twelve months at least, and now they plan to look at speaking to schools? Just what are they doing? Sounds like a talk fest, no action.

    What have they done about addressing the underlying issues of bullying? Changing the culture of attitudes that someone’s sexuality can be regarded as an abomination?

    Too much talk, not enough action.

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