Media Release: Royal Commission to conduct further public hearing into Yeshivah Melbourne and Yeshiva Bondi

Manny Waks
November 8, 2016

​I welcome the recent announcement by the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse that Yeshivah Melbourne and Yeshiva Bondi will be called to a further public hearing in February 2017.
This public hearing will focus on the current policies and procedures of these institutions in relation to child protection and child-safe standards, including responding to allegations of child sexual abuse. This hearing is also expected to include consideration of factors that may have contributed to the occurrence of child sexual abuse in religious institutions and factors that may have affected the institutional response of religious institutions to child sexual abuse. This hearing may also examine the responses of these institutions to relevant case study report(s).
At a previous public hearing held in February 2015, victims and survivors gave evidence of their sexual abuse and the cover-ups perpetrated by the Yeshiva/h institutions. Evidence was also given of the bullying, harassment and demonisation which we, and our families, experienced at the hands of Yeshivah Melbourne and the Chabad community – in Australia and beyond – as a result of seeking justice for the crimes committed against us. It was shown that the religious and lay leadership of Yeshivah Melbourne were responsible for the failures which led to the sexual abuse of dozens of children in their care and that the more recent attacks against us were led by some of those leaders and members of their families. Members of the Orthodox Rabbinate and the Rabbinical Council of Victoria were also involved in attacks against us and our families.
I acknowledge that there are good people within Yeshivah Melbourne who are doing what they can to effect change. In some cases, they too have come under attack by Yeshivah Management. I also acknowledge and appreciate the recent personal apology that I received from Yeshivah. It is also important to note that Yeshivah has made some changes in response to the Royal Commission, although I consider that these have been mostly superficial and intended to address public perceptions as opposed to genuine reform.
Regrettably, in the two years since that public hearing, victims have continued to experience bullying, harassment and ostracism within Yeshivah Melbourne. Despite several incidents having been reported to Yeshivah Management, the institution has failed to deal with the perpetrators.
At the same time, a number of those individuals whose shameful behaviour was exposed at the Royal Commission, continue to enjoy the same roles, honours and/or salaries as they did prior to the public hearing. Promises of resignations have not fully materialised and individuals have not been held to account. Conflicts of interest have continued to plague the responses of Yeshivah Melbourne.
It is for these reasons that I, together with other victims, formally asked the Royal Commission to conduct a further public hearing into the Yeshiva/h institutions.
I encourage anyone with relevant information to make submissions to the Royal Commission and hope that this further public hearing will lead to the much needed changes and accountability which ought to have occurred after the first hearing.


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