Shannon Deery, Herald Sun
August 31, 2016
EXCLUSIVE Jewish school Yeshivah College is under investigation amid claims of ongoing bullying and harassment of staff.
The school came under fire during lengthy hearings at the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse over claims abuse victims were threatened and intimidated.
Now allegations have surfaced of persistent and ongoing bullying and harassment of staff at the college, and its sister school Beth Rivkah College, by senior figures.
Worksafe Victoria has been probing the schools, run by the Yeshiva Centre, for several weeks after a complaint was made by a junior teacher.
This week the schools were issued with an “improvement notice” over their failure to force staff to undergo specific training in relation to bullying.
The schools have been ordered to ensure the training has been completed by December.
It is understood several teachers have left the schools this year, while some have had their hours cut.
Others are fearful of speaking out against the school’s administration, sources say.
“This issue is greatly concerning parents. How can you offer a safe environment if teachers can’t speak openly?” one community member said.
“This is strongly connected to the Royal Commission and evidence of a culture within the college that just won’t go away.”
One community member has written to Australian Childhood Foundation chief, Dr Joe Tucci, asking that Yeshiva’s accreditation as “a safe place” be urgently reviewed.
The college, in a statement released on Wednesday night, said the college had fully co-operated with the investigation.
The statement said: “Following visits to Yeshivah College, WorkSafe Victoria issued an “Improvement Notice” recommending the Occupational Health and Safety training package, already implemented by the school, be extended to include all staff.
“The College welcomes and fully supports the suggestion and will ensure that the recommendations are implemented.”
Following a damning probe by the child abuse royal commission last year, the Yeshiva Centre announced it would replace its board of trustees and committee of management.
Many of the centre’s leaders were blamed for decades of cover-ups that led to an epidemic of sexual abuse that has shamed the community.
A string of former staff have been jailed in recent years for crimes against children.
Chief Rabbi Zvi Telsner announced he would stand down indefinitely amid claims he had continued to berate victims who exposed the widespread abuse cover-up within the community.
The Herald Sun has been told both the trustees, and Rabbi Telsner, remain.
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