Two minute statement

14 September 2023

Earlier this week the Australian Union of Jewish Students and the Zionist Federation of Australia were in Parliament House to discuss a recent survey of Jewish university students and their experience of antisemitism on campus. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend the morning tea, but I want to take a moment in the Senate today to recognise the work and talk about the findings of the survey.

The survey found that nearly two-thirds of Jewish students have experienced antisemitism at a university in Australia, which is disgraceful. In addition to this awful statistic, 57 per cent of the students surveyed have hidden their Jewish identity to avoid antisemitism. The Zionist Federation of Australia have published some quotes from the students who took part in the survey, and I want to read out what in particular:

“I feel uncomfortable about being openly Jewish with other students (other than my close friends). Whenever I would mention it, it always feels a bit like coming out, where you don’t exactly know how people will respond, if they will judge you negatively or change their behaviour because of it.”

With one in five Jewish students staying away from university campuses to avoid antisemitism, it is incumbent on our universities to act and do more in this place. Seventy-six per cent of respondents to the survey said they would be more confident in the university complaints system and procedures if they adopted a definition of antisemitism. To be honest, I think that would be a very good place to start. I stand in solidarity with the Jewish community and the students against the scourge of antisemitism in this country, particularly at our universities. I call on parliamentarians to do the same thing.