Five Australian Jewish students were awarded a sum of 400,000 AUD (257,296 USD) on Monday after the federal court ruled in their favor in a long-running antisemitism case, the Lawfare Project said.
The students’ former college, Brighton Secondary College in Melbourne, Victoria, was the defendant in the case.
The students had alleged that the college had violated their rights provided by Australia’s Racial Discrimination Act 1975 on multiple occasions.
With the exception of one of the students, who had left Australia for personal reasons, they all said that safety concerns had forced them to leave the school.
In addition to providing the student plaintiffs with financial support during the case, the Lawfare Project worked with them and their local counselors in order to assist them in winning the case.
The press release notes that, with their counsel, Richard Hutchings and Adam Butt, the students demonstrated that Brighton Secondary College had an inadequate system to educate on Jewish issues and to implement disciplinary measures when antisemitic occurrences took place.
The result, the plaintiffs showed, was an environment where antisemitism was the norm and students could target their Jewish peers without consequence.
“This ruling is an unambiguous victory for the legal rights of Jewish students to be free of antisemitic harassment and intimidation at school,” said founder and Executive Director of The Lawfare Project, Brooke Goldstein. “It is appalling that this horrific behavior was ignored for so long by the school, and it is shocking the State Government of Victoria disputed every aspect of this claim instead of taking strong and resolute action to remedy the situation and protect these students. The ruling makes it crystal clear that Jew-hatred cannot be tolerated or ignored, but must be rooted out.”
Federal Court Chief Justice Debra Mortimer found that there were “unusually high levels of swastika graffiti” and that frequent complaints of swastikas as well as antisemitic harassment and bullying were inadequately addressed.
Civil rights of Jewish students were not upheld
Furthermore, the court ruled that the principal of Brighton Secondary College had violated section 9 of the Racial Discrimination Act through his failure 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.”
The Court also found that 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.”
According to the release, the Lawfare Project has been publicly backing the case since November of last year. The Lawfare Project boasts that it “is the world’s leading organization dedicated to protecting the civil and human rights of Jewish people worldwide through legal action.”