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Police investigated ‘sexualised behaviour’ involving Melbourne children

Michael Visontay
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Published: 2 September 2022

Last updated: 5 March 2024

MICHAEL VISONTAY: Victoria police have investigated five reports of ‘sexualised behaviour’ involving children at the Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne.

Victoria police have investigated five reports of sexualised behaviour involving children at the Yeshivah Centre in Melbourne and referred the children to counselling and support services to address the problem.

The Jewish Independent understands that the incidents involved an older child engaging in sexual acts with younger children against their will.

“It is alleged three of the incidents occurred between May and October 2021 at a facility on Hotham Street,” a police spokesperson confirmed to The Jewish Independent.

Manny Waks, the CEO of child sexual abuse advocacy group VoiCSA, told a public forum in Melbourne on Tuesday night that in recent months his organisation had been dealing with more than a dozen cases in relation to the sexualised behaviour involving the Yeshivah Centre.

The Jewish Independent has been told that only five reports were made to police.

“The Bayside Sexual Offences & Child Abuse Investigation Team detectives investigated five reports of sexualised behaviour,” a Victorian police spokesperson said in reply to inquiries from The Jewish Independent.

“Following investigations, education and guidance was provided to the youths due to their young age,” the police spokesperson said.

Police have confirmed that their investigations into these incidents have now closed.

The Jewish Independent understands that the incidents of sexualised behaviour did not take place in the Yeshivah school and did not involve any teachers.

Waks has described the Yeshivah Centre’s response to VoiCSA’s interactions with it over the cases as “poor”. At the public forum in Caulfield, held to discuss the Jewish community’s progress since the Royal Commission wound up five years ago, he said: “It’s too early to say whether or not things were addressed appropriately by the Centre but its response to our most recent allegations and to our interactions with them has been poor. It’s as simple as that, and therefore, I am concerned.”

The Jewish Independent approached the Yeshivah Centre for a comment about the allegations but had not received any response at the time of publication.

Photo: The Yeshivah Centre in Hotham Street, Balaclava, Melbourne (Michael Visontay)

About the author

Michael Visontay

Michael Visontay is the Commissioning Editor of TJI. He has worked as a journalist and editor for more than 30 years. Michael is the author of several books, including Who Gave You Permission?, co-authored with child sexual abuse advocate Manny Waks, and Welcome to Wanderland: Western Sydney Wanderers and the Pride of the West.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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