From 2020, all Year 9 and 10 students in Victorian government schools will learn about the Holocaust in a bid to tackle rising anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice in schools and the wider community.
Victorian Minister for Education James Merlino announced that new teaching resources for Holocaust education will be developed in partnership with Victorian Jewish organisations, and alumni of the Gandel Holocaust Studies Program for Australian Educators. Existing resources will be reviewed to ensure they are up to date and fit for purpose.
“It concerns me that if asked, most kids today wouldn’t be able to explain what the Holocaust was. Anti-Semitism is on the rise around the globe and sadly we are not immune in our own Victorian community,” said Minister Merlino.
“It is vital that each generation understands the horror of the Holocaust to ensure it can never be repeated and to educate the community on the damage caused by anti-Semitism, racism and prejudice,” he added. “This is about using this terrible historical event to talk to students and educate them about the broader issues of racism and prejudice in our society.”
The updated resources will be based on adaptations of existing Yad Vashem teaching resources and lesson plans produced by the World Holocaust Memorial Centre in Jerusalem.
Although the Holocaust is in the current Victorian curriculum, it is not compulsory to teach it in all schools.
This move was also welcomed by the Minister for Multicultural Affairs Richard Wynne. “Tackling racism and prejudice in schools is everyone’s responsibility. It’s our diversity that makes Victoria what we are and that is why we need to ensure our students understand the damage racism and discrimination can cause,” he said.
Along with the refreshed Holocaust education resources, other related initiatives will include increasing funding to Courage to Care; the establishment of a dedicated ethnic or religious vilification hotline for schools, students and parents; and the establishment of a new student advisory group to look at what more can be done to ensure schools are inclusive communities where diversity is valued.