Most schools wait to join

Premiers Gladys Berejiklian and Daniel Andrews joined Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull to announce NSW and Victoria were signing up to the redress scheme. Photo: AAP Image/Dean Lewins

KESSER Torah College (KTC) in Sydney is the only Jewish organisation that will definitely join the National Redress Scheme for survivors of child sexual abuse that was announced by the NSW, Victorian and federal governments last week.

The scheme, to commence on July 1 subject to the passage of legislation, will offer access to psychological counselling, a direct personal response from the institution where the abuse occurred, and a monetary payment capped at $150,000.

It will be automatically applied to government institutions, but will apply to religious, charity and other non-government institutions on an opt-in basis. The scheme will give victims an opportunity to receive compensation without going to court.

The AJN only contacted major Jewish institutions that have received allegations of child sexual abuse.
While KTC hasn’t been the subject of any direct complaints, it is possible that KTC is responsible for historical claims at Yeshiva College in Sydney because the school was formed to replace the old Yeshiva College.

“We have every intention of signing up,” KTC principal Roy Steinman told The AJN.

“It is the proper thing to do for all institutions, that work with children, especially schools, in order to provide redress for past victims and protection for future students.”

The scheme was welcomed by Yeshiva College Bondi director Rabbi Dovid Slavin, who said he would look forward to “understanding more details as they become available”.

“In relation to apologies and other forms of redress we will be guided by the National Redress Scheme,” indicating he would consider joining.

Rabbi Slavin noted that Yeshiva College Bondi was established in 2008, long after any of the current allegations took place.

Yeshivah College said it had its own redress scheme, and did not commit to joining the national scheme. Any decision, its general manager Jeff Kagen said, would need to be evaluated by the Yeshivah board.

Adass Israel said it is waiting for more details about the National Redress Scheme.

An Adass spokesperson said the legislation “is in its early stages and there are media reports that negotiations are in progress to make changes to the details of the scheme to accommodate the four states that are not prepared to sign up to the scheme as it is currently proposed.

“When the legislation is passed and the details are finalised, we will then look at the concept of opting into the scheme.”

Executive Council of Australian Jewry president Anton Block said a national working group has been established “to determine what action the ECAJ, its constituent and affiliate bodies and other Jewish organisations should take”.

The ECAJ noted that it will “encourage Yeshivah and Adass in Melbourne – and Yeshivah in NSW – to each publish an apology to people who were abused as children while in their care”, and to “encourage” relevant Jewish community organisations to join the National Redress Scheme.

Rabbi Pinchus Feldman from the Yeshiva Centre in Sydney did not return calls to The AJN before the print deadline.

SHANE DESIATNIK