Lisa Wachsmuth
The Daily Telegraph
March 4, 2023

Every NSW public school will have access to a trained anti-racism contact officer and best-practice teaching of the Holocaust under a “historic” new agreement set to stamp out antisemitic and faith-based bullying.

The 10-year partnership between a re-elected Perrottet government and the state’s religious communities would also establish better reporting portals for students, parents and teachers to report incidents, as well as professional training for teachers to promote student wellbeing when managing religious discrimination.

It comes after disturbing reports of rising antisemitism at schools across the state in recent months, including Cranbrook, Knox Grammar School, Rose Bay Secondary College and a Northern Rivers high school.

In September a video emerged of a student at Sydney’s prestigious Cranbrook School smiling while giving a Nazi salute to the camera, while Knox Grammar students were caught making pro-Hitler comments in a chatroom on the Discord app, which also featured examples of antisemitic, racist, sexist and homophobic language.

Education Minister Sarah Mitchell said a proposed Memorandum of Understanding would bring the Department of Education, Multicultural NSW and the Religious Communities Advisory Council together to create a unified approach to end racism, religious intolerance and discrimination against students and teachers.

“Our faith communities play a vital role in NSW, including in our school system and so it is fantastic we have been able to make a commitment to this partnership to continue our collaborative work on such important issues,” she said.

“No students or staff should face discrimination or bullying, including based on their faith. The NSW Liberal and Nationals Government remains focused on addressing this issue, as well as reaffirming our commitment to special religious education and special education in ethics in NSW public schools.”

NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark welcomed the proposed partnership which he said was a “historic and significant moment” for victims of religious bullying in schools.

“Schools are supposed to be one of the safest spaces for our children,” Mr Bark said.

“The sad reality is that we regularly hear harrowing stories about students – and their teachers – being bullied simply because of their background. This vile racism has to stop.

“This partnership will go a long way in helping students leave school with greater respect, understanding and acceptance of their peers, and ensure that racism and hate is not amplified and felt at universities, in workplaces and in broader society.

“Shockingly, one in four Australians have little to no knowledge of the Holocaust. If we do not learn the lessons of history, we are destined to repeat them. The only way to address this is through meaningful and effective education about the horrors of the past.”

Minister for Multiculturalism Mark Coure said it was vital to foster peace and respect between young people at school, so those values were carried into their adult years.

“School is a formative time for young people, and we want to ensure that students are guided to understand the impacts of racism, hatred and religious intolerance,” he said.