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Call for mandatory Holocaust studies -

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EMMA ALBERICI: Around six-million Jews were murdered during the Holocaust but in New South Wales at
least you might never learn about that part of history in school.

The head of the New South Wales Education Department Michael Coutts-Trotter says he discovered only
recently that you could get through the entire compulsory school curriculum in the state and never
know there was a mass killing of Jews during World War Two.

His call for the Holocaust to be a mandatory component of history teaching has the backing of
Jewish groups and secondary principals.

Barbara Miller reports.

BARBARA MILLER: It's school holidays in New South Wales and if these students relaxing outside Town
Hall in Sydney ever learned anything much in the class room about the Holocaust, it's long

LOGAN: I'm Logan and I'm in year 12.

BARBARA MILLER: What do you know about the Holocaust?

LOGAN: The Holocaust? Like the nuclear holocaust, like the bombing of the Japanese people?

BARBARA MILLER: The, well, tell me what else you understand under Holocaust?

LOGAN: Nothing.

KAYLA: I'm Kayla, year nine.

BARBARA MILLER: Kayla, what do you know about the Holocaust?

KAYLA: Nothing.

BARBARA MILLER: Do you imagine anything when I use that word?


BARBARA MILLER: Do you know about millions of Jewish people being murdered in Europe?


BARBARA MILLER: That is referred to as the Holocaust. You didn't know that?


BARBARA MILLER: What do you know about the murder of Jews during WWII?

KAYLA: It's sad.

JESSICA: I'm Jessica, year 10.

BARBARA MILLER: Jessica, what do you know about the Holocaust?

JESSICA: Um, Germans and Jews, and they got the Jews to like, they tried to kill all the Jews and
they did stuff, yeah.

BARBARA MILLER: When was that?

JESSICA: Was it WWII? Yeah, was it?

BARBARA MILLER: Is this something you've learned about at school?

JESSICA: Yeah, wait, probably not. Probably not, probably TV, not from school.

BARBARA MILLER: The New South Wales Board of Studies says even though it's not specifically
mentioned many students do learn about the Holocaust. The board issued this statement:

EXCERPT OF STATEMENT: The Holocaust can be and is taught in New South Wales schools. While it is
not a mandatory topic, it can be covered in several ways as part of either the mandatory or
elective years seven to 10 history courses.

There is already a lot to cover in year seven to 10 history and the board is mindful not to over
crowd the curriculum.

BARBARA MILLER: Andrew Blair, the president of the Australian Secondary Principals Association,
also says it's unlikely that large number of students leave school without ever learning of the

ANDREW BLAIR: You're not going to get in some states and territories a statement which says
students must study the Holocaust. What you will get is a statement like students being exposed to
issues of treatment of humans throughout the Second World War. And so therefore clearly there will
be schools that will talk about the Holocaust.

BARBARA MILLER: Andrew Blair agrees that Holocaust studies should be a key component of history

ANDREW BLAIR: I think that it's really important that students are exposed to the major events of
civilisation and arguably the Holocaust is right up there as one of the darkest moments in human
civilisation, along with the First World War, the Second World War, the Iraq War. Whatever wars
have taken place should be, young people should be exposed to, no question.

WOMAN (recording): So they gathered 10 people, 10 Jewish people and they hung them in every city.
And all of us...

BARBARA MILLER: In the Sydney Jewish Museum visitors can look at photographs of the Holocaust, they
can read about the Holocaust and they can watch and hear accounts from survivors of the Holocaust.
Thousands of school students pass through this museum every year.

With me here is Vic Alhadeff, the CEO of the New South Wales Jewish Board of Deputies. Isn't that
enough that you're getting a lot of students visiting a facility like this?

VIC ALHADEFF: It's fantastic that 13,000 school students are coming through the Sydney Jewish
Museum every year. Our concern is, is that students can complete 13 years of high school education
in New South Wales without every studying the Holocaust. The reason that that is a concern is that
the Holocaust is a seminal example of where racial hatred can lead.

BARBARA MILLER: But the New South Wales Board of Studies says there are opportunities, there are
possibilities for students to study the Holocaust and teachers can exploit those.

VIC ALHADEFF: There certainly are opportunities but they are few and far between.

BARBARA MILLER: Any students now curious to find out about the Holocaust will have to be quick if
they want to do so at the Sydney Jewish Museum. It's closing for five weeks from Monday for

EMMA ALBERICI: Barbara Miller.