Victorian government apologises for school antisemitism

Victorian government apologises for school antisemitism

Two of the Brighton Secondary students who won a court case over antisemitic bullying at the school have rejected the apology.

A senior education department official has apologised for antisemitic bullying at Brighton Secondary College in a ceremony at Caulfield Hebrew Congregation on Tuesday.

The apology was the result of a court order after former Brighton Secondary College students Joel and Matt Kaplan, Liam Arnold-Levy, Guy Cohen and Zack Snelling took the state, the school, two teachers and principal Richard Minack to the federal court over antisemitism they suffered at the school.


In September, Chief Justice Debra Mortimer found Jewish students were not protected from bullying, discrimination and negligence when they attended the school between 2015 and 2020.

She ordered the state to pay the five men more than $500,000 compensation, including interest and legal costs.

She ordered a senior official from the Education Department to issue a verbal, in-person apology to the five students.

The Seputy Secretary of the department, David Howes, made the apology and said the department was being more proactive to claims of bullying and harassment in schools.

“This apology is both an apology directed to the boys for what they suffered and to their families for what they suffered, but it is also an apology to you, the broader Jewish community,” he told the congregation.

But Joel and Matt Kaplan both rejected the apology, calling it a sham.

“We asked for an apology for three-and-a-half years and the state refused to do so,” Matt Kaplan said to loud applause from the congregation.

“It was, even after winning such a huge court case, an extremely difficult and painful process.”

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Photo: David Howes apologises to former Brighton Secondary students at Caulfield Hebrew Congregation on Tuesday.