Mixed emotions for Jewish abuse inquiry
A public hearing into abuse in Melbourne’s Jewish community will bring vindication but mixed emotions when it begins, one witness says.
Manny Waks had hoped there would be no need for details to be played out in public hearings, which begin on Monday, but now concedes it’s likely the only way to bring about the changes needed.
Mr Waks will appear as a witness at this week’s hearing into abuse at Melbourne’s Yeshivah College and the Yeshivah Centre as part of the Royal Commission into Child Abuse.
“I think there’s an element of justice automatically by the very fact there is a public hearing taking place,” Mr Waks told AAP.
“I certainly feel vindicated. But it’s with mixed emotions.”
Mr Waks, who now runs victim’s advocacy group Tzedek, was a victim of abuse at Yeshivah College.
David Cyprys was jailed for eight years in 2013 for abusing Mr Waks and eight other boys at the college between 1983 and 1991.
Mr Waks said it would be a challenging week, not only for victims giving evidence but also for family members who are expected to testify.
“It’s certainly very personal to all of us,” he said.
It is important that evidence presented is considered for what it is, Mr Waks stressed.
He said there was no reason to believe rates of child abuse were any higher in the Jewish community than the community as a whole.
“We need to tread carefully with generalisations as it’s not something the entire community needs to be tainted with,” he said.
“There are two institutions on the stand here, rightly being examined by the Royal Commission.”
Mr Waks said the hearings would help the community to move forward to prevent future cases of abuse, empower parents to protect their children and to respond sensibly in order to better protect victims.