Federal Court of Australia Ruled in Favor of Former Jewish Students Who Claimed College Made Number of Violations of Racial Discrimination Act of 1975
MELBOURNE, Australia, Sept. 16, 2023 /PRNewswire/ -- The Lawfare Project (LP) announced a major victory with the ruling of the Federal Court of Australia siding with all five Jewish students against the Brighton Secondary College in Melbourne in the Australian State of Victoria. LP provided financial support for the lawsuit and has worked with the students and their local counsel to bring about this victory.
The students asserted that they were subjected to a significant number of violations of Australia's Racial Discrimination Act 1975 between 2013 and 2020. All but one student, who left the country for personal reasons, were forced to leave the school due to fears for their safety.
Represented by Richard Hutchings of Cornwalls and Adam Butt, barrister, the students showed in their suit that the school had a failed system of education and discipline with respect to Jewish issues and concerns. This resulted in a normalized culture of antisemitism, where racist actions of students and school authorities went entirely unpunished.
"The ruling in the amount of compensation close to just over $400,000 AUD is a clear victory for the rule of law but also for these brave students who stood up against antisemitism," said Brooke Goldstein, founder and Executive Director of The Lawfare Project. "Despite the continued resistance that the State Government of Victoria showed in disputing every aspect of this claim, the Federal Court was able to deliver justice against the hateful attacks leveled against these students."
In her ruling, Chief Justice Mortimer found that at the school, there was "unusually high levels of swastika graffiti" and that frequent complaints were made about swastikas, antisemitic bullying and harassment which were not adequately addressed. The Court also found that:
- The principal contravened section 9 of the Racial Discrimination Act by 'failing to take appropriate and reasonable steps to discourage and modify the antisemitic student bullying and harassment behavior, and to discourage swastika graffiti, including by imposing appropriate disciplinary consequences but also by more systemic approaches such as school-wide campaigns'
- There was an 'inexplicable and unusual tolerance for antisemitic graffiti and a preparedness to ignore, downplay and take less seriously the complaints made by Jewish students and their families.'
LP publicly backed the suit in November 2022 as cases of antisemitism continue to rise globally.
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The Lawfare Project (LP) is the world's leading organization dedicated to protecting the civil and human rights of Jewish people worldwide through legal action.