'Nothing done over anti-Semitic bullying'

·3-min read

A former Melbourne school student who says he experienced a relentless campaign of anti-Semitic bullying has criticised Victoria's education department for failing to remove the school's principal.

Liam Arnold-Levy, now aged 21, is one of five of five former students suing Brighton Secondary College for failing to protect them from years of anti-Semitic bullying and discrimination.

The State of Victoria, as the authority in control of the school, principal Richard Minack and teachers Paul Varney and Demi Flessa are all named in the suit.

All defendants have denied the allegations brought against them.

Mr Arnold-Levy told the Federal Court in Melbourne he was punched, spat on, had coins thrown at him and was called names including "dirty Jew" by fellow students.

He alleged the attacks ramped up between year seven and year nine, from 2013 to 2015, when he began wearing a kippa and a Jewish prayer shawl to school.

He said four boys confronted him in the toilets in year nine, punching him and then holding him at knifepoint before threatening: "If you ever mention this to anyone we're really going to hurt you."

"The boys went out of the bathroom, where I was left, shaking, crying because of what had occurred," he told the court on Thursday.

Mr Arnold-Levy reported most of the attacks to the school's administration office and said the staff would write what he said onto scraps of paper.

They would promise to pass these notes onto principal Minack, but he alleges no action was ever taken.

He left the school part-way through year nine, in 2015, and moved to a private Jewish school.

Months after leaving, Mr Arnold-Levy said the school's head of student welfare reached out and helped him organise a meeting with Mr Minack.

He wanted an apology.

"I didn't get an apology, I didn't get recognition, I got excuses and I felt even more belittled after that meeting than I had done prior," he said.

"He denied he was responsible. I felt as if I had moved five steps back rather than moving forward."

Mr Arnold-Levy has been involved in mediation with Victoria's education department in the years since he left the school.

He said those meetings had made him feeling like "it was a joke, that what happened didn't happen" and he felt was not taken seriously.

"They refused to take action...and I had to relive it for two years, going to mediation and going to meetings," he said.

He was critical of why the department has not taken action to remove Mr Minack, who remains principal of Brighton College despite allegations that he endorsed Nazis and called Jewish people subhuman and evil.

"I cant understand how the department can sit there and allow a principal that denies any form of responsibility," he said.

"What good does that do for the Jewish students that are still there?"

The trial before Justice Debbie Mortimer continues on Friday.

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