Firstly, there is no acceptance of responsibility or an unequivocal apology - for that matter, there is no apology whatsoever. From the victims' perspective, the letter would be meaningless, if not downright offensive.
Secondly, the encouragement to report allegations of child sexual abuse is vague. Adass should have made it absolutely clear that community members must report all allegations directly to the police. Indeed this requirement should have been supported with a clear endorsement by their most senior rabbis.
I suspect these omissions were deliberate, which is disappointing. Nevertheless, this letter is at least a positive development.
27 July 2016
Dear Parent and Community Members
We wish to advise the community of the steps we have taken to comply with the Government's Child Safe Standards, which aims to change the culture in organisations to enhance the protection of children from abuse, including prevention and effective response. We strongly support and accept these measures.
We are pleased to advise many of the requirements have been in place for some years and we are ready for legal compliance on 1 August 2016. A copy of the Adass Israel School statement of commitment and associated policies and procedures are available for perusal at the School Office. The process will involve continual review and we will keep you up to date with progress in terms of the enhancement of our policies and procedures.
There has been recent publicity concerning abuse in our Mosdos and we acknowledge past cases of abuse. We recognise the distress caused to victims and others affected and, on behalf of our community, we want them to know that the entire community stands with them. We assure the whole community that we are working to ensure that such events do not happen again.
We commend those who have come forward and we encourage others to report matters of concern. While we cannot claim to know what you go through, we offer our full support as well as any assistance which we can provide which might ease your pain.
If you feel you need support, there are a number of services that can assist you including
- Jewish Care: Call the Front Door on 8517 5999 and ask to speak with a Social Worker
- Child First 1300 721 383
Your call will be treated with the utmost confidence and may be made anonymously.
We wish you success in all your endeavours in health and happiness.
President, Adass Israel School
Convenor, Congregation Adass Israel Mosdos Hachinuch