The following are the key issues that arise from their letter:
1. Not just victims but many in the Yeshivah and broader community have demanded that they must all resign immediately. A handful of token resignations is insufficient – it falls well short of what amounts to accountability and does not pave the way for sustainable change.
2. Many victims have clearly stated what their “needs” are with respect to Yeshivah: the resignations of those responsible by virtue of their positions. Many of us are no longer interested in any scheme that is introduced or implemented by board members who have caused us so much ongoing pain and suffering. Including words such as “independent” and “preeminent” does nothing to alter the situation. I, and I’m sure many of my fellow victims, will not recognise or engage with a scheme established by some of the very people who have failed us (in relation to the abuse, cover-ups and/or intimidation). We have already made it abundantly clear that we don’t trust them and we don’t have any confidence in them. Numerous civil cases are in progress – we will obtain our redress in that manner before we consider any scheme they now wish to belatedly present to us.
3. Despite repeatedly and publicly calling on those impacted by the abuse to contact them for support, when taken up on this offer in recent weeks and despite the urgency of the request, it took them almost two weeks to issue a completely inadequate response. It is obvious that the Yeshivah leadership remains completely oblivious to the “needs” of victims and frighteningly ill-equipped to deal with these matters.
4. The Yeshivah leadership seemingly has no genuine mandate to lead or to conduct an independent review of the governance arrangements of the Centre. It is clearly appropriate that a new board be installed and they should be the ones to undertake a review to take Yeshivah forward. And again, incorporating buzzwords words such as “independent,” “governance,” “best practice” and “recommendations” does nothing to alter the situation.
5. Why is Don Wolf referred to as “the current chair” when only weeks ago he gave evidence at the Royal Commission public hearing into Yeshivah that he had resigned from his post in 2014 due to personal circumstances? Rest assured that this matter will be brought to the attention of the Royal Commission.
6. Yeshivah parents and other community members should not engage in the leadership’s proposed consultation process regarding the operations and performance of the College. They seem to have no mandate to lead and if they genuinely cared what parents thought, they would present themselves to parents for election, as so many within that community have been demanding for some time. The fact that they won’t suggests they would probably never achieve a mandate from their community.
7. It is important to emphasise that the position in which the Yeshivah Centre “find[s] itself” is entirely of their own doing. If the leadership truly “regrets” their predicament, they can easily do the right thing and resign.
8. As Yeshivah’s reputation is at its lowest point, it seems that for some reason these same leaders who have been (mis)handling their affairs in the last few years feel it is appropriate for them to lead the rebuilding phase. Moreover, the leadership’s unconscionable decision to ignore the wishes of so many of their institution’s victims, and indeed the wishes of so many within the community, is a clear reflection on them, and highlights even more why they simply cannot be trusted in their current roles at the Centre.
9. They need to reflect on why it is that “the good name of the Centre is under threat and confidence has been diminished”. It seems obvious that there is no confidence in Yeshivah due to their ongoing involvement there. And the confidence will not be restored while they remain. Resign, take appropriate action and the situation will change – my commitment is that under such circumstances I will assist in rebuilding confidence in this vital institution that the current leadership is destroying.
It is clear that the actions of the current leadership are not “the basis for continued success”. Rather, they are the basis for ongoing failure. I reiterate to the “leaders” who are hanging on – you are doing yourselves, the many victims of your institution, and your community no favours. Do the right thing and get out of the way so your community – indeed our entire community – can heal and move forward in a positive and constructive manner.
Disclaimer: I am in no way attributing equal or entire blame to the individual members of the Yeshivah leadership – past and present – for the sexual abuse of so many children at their institution, the cover-ups, the intimidation and their appalling response and mismanagement. The reality is that as current leaders, they must all accept responsibility for what has transpired in the past and what is currently transpiring.