Bus incident

Last August’s Randwick bus incident, which saw a busload of Jewish schoolchildren terrorised by a group of drunken teenagers, had an aftermath recently, when one of the offenders undertook a guided tour of the Sydney Jewish Museum.

The offender, who cannot be identified as he is a minor, was ordered to participate in a Youth Justice Conference under the Juvenile Justice system, along with various participants – a 12-year-old Jewish child who was a victim of the abuse and her parents; NSW Jewish Board of Deputies chief executive officer Vic Alhadeff representing the other victims; a police youth liaison officer; a social worker; the offender’s parents; and a convener.
The Conference was held as a result of an incident on August 6, when inebriated youths boarded a bus carrying Mount Sinai College, Moriah College and Emanuel School pupils and intimidated them with threats of slitting their throats and chants of “Kill the Jews”, “Heil Hitler” and “Free Palestine”. They also pointedly sat among the pupils, some of whom were as young as five and many of whom were terrified and in tears, frantically calling their parents.

Held under the NSW Young Offenders Act 1997, the Youth Justice Conference was designed to enable the offender understand the consequences of his actions; give the victims an opportunity to question him on his motive and state of mind; have interested parties voice their opinions; and invite the victims to suggest outcomes which would provide a sense of restorative justice.

The Conference opened with the offender articulating what had occurred, including his own role, followed by questions put to him by the child and her parents. Alhadeff then elaborated on the impact of the offender’s actions, both on the children who were on the bus and on the Jewish community. “When people say ‘Heil Hitler’, we take it seriously,” he said.

All present were then invited to voice their thoughts and to question the offender. After an hour-long discussion, Alhadeff was asked to suggest a course of action, which he did in consultation with the victim’s family.

The suggested outcomes – which were formally accepted and therefore legally binding – comprised the guided two-hour of the Sydney Jewish Museum and participation in the Board of Deputies’ “Respect, Understanding, Acceptance” school harmony program.