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Achper, apology and review just a start

The Zionist Federation of Australia and Zionism Victoria has cautiously welcomed an announcement from ACHPER that it will undertake an independent investigation and share the findings with the Deputy Premier and Minister of Education, John Merlino.

However, ACHPER is yet to acknowledge the underlying source of this issue –the publication of a statement that is factually incorrect.

In mid-July 2019, a year 12 student discovered a sample exam paper for Health and Human Development which stated that “an example of an individual being persecuted for their religion could be the Arab families living in Israel who practice the Islam religion rather than the Jewish religion, including unlawful demolition of homes and forced displacement and detainment of these families.” The paper was produced by ACHPER and later withdrawn.

ACHPER’s most recent statement said “This example response presented an interpretation of a context in Israel that was divisive and hurtful to members of Australia’s Jewish community”.

President of the ZFA Jeremy Leibler and Zionism Victoria President Sharene Hambur who recently met with the Deputy Premier, noted that “while the apology and independent investigation is a step in the right direction, ACHPER must acknowledge that the relevant example was not simply an inappropriate ‘interpretation’ but factually incorrect”.

“This issue is not simply about apologising for offending the Jewish community. This is about holding an institution that purports to represent teachers to the most basic academic standards of ensuring that the material it disseminates is factually correct. ACHPER failed and will continue to fail this standard until it explicitly acknowledges that the example was not a misunderstanding or a question of interpretation but simply factually incorrect”, concluded Mr Leibler and Ms Hambur.

The belated apology from ACHPER together with the announcement of an independent investigation is a welcome development. However, until ACHPER explicitly acknowledges that the relevant example was incorrect, the issue will remain unresolved.

The Zionist Federation of Australia and Zionism Victoria will continue to work with the Deputy Premier and Minister for Education, Mr James Merlino to ensure that ACHPER is held to account for the benefit of all students in the Victorian school system.