YESHIVA College, Bondi, has changed its policies after concerns were raised at the Royal Commission that there is a gatekeeper for child sexual abuse allegations.
At last week’s hearing, the school said allegations of abuse are brought to the attention of the principal Shaina Feldman.
“She knows exactly what to do,” Yeshiva’s education policy officer Gavriella Aber said.
Aber noted that the school had consulted with the NSW Education Standards Authority (NESA) and that the school acted on their advice. “One of the things that they recommended is that we have one point of contact so that anybody – like, if I saw a child that was crying at recess and then somebody else saw that that child had a bruise and they didn’t put two and two together – but if one person is getting both those reports then they will put two and two together and it suddenly becomes something that we would notice more significantly.”
It became clear at the Royal Commission that the advice from NESA, and the implementation of the policy, meant that one person at Yeshiva College, Bondi, was a gatekeeper of sorts who would decide whether allegations were reported to the authorities.
Yeshiva board member Rabbi Dovid Slavin wrote to staff this week and said the school is changing its child protection policy as a direct result of the hearings, so that it is now up to staff members themselves to report allegations to the authorities.
“The Jewish concepts of mesirah (informing), lashon hora (speaking negatively) or being a moser (an informant) in regard to child protection matters do not apply,” Rabbi Slavin wrote.
“In fact it is a mitzvah (positive commandment) to protect the safety of a child and future victims and report to the authorities immediately according to the laws of Australia regarding Mandatory Reporting.
“Let it be clear that we will not shun survivors of abuse or whistle- blowers. The school will protect the dignity of all survivors and whistleblowers.
“Be aware that as a mandatory reporter, you are expected to follow through with an allegation that came your way by following the guidelines of the MRG (Mandatory Reporting Guide).
“The responsibility to report lies with the staff member who knows the facts.”