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Press Release AJI

Australian Jewish Institute

Feasibility study for a proposed national Australian Jewish community think-tank launched.

Recently, a feasibility study for a proposed national Australian Jewish community think-tank was launched. Former B'nai B'rith Anti-Defamation Commission Executive Officer, Manny Waks, has launched this initiative with financial backing from numerous generous sources. It is envisaged that this study will take between two to three months to complete and cost between $15k-$20k.

The initiative of the think-tank, the Australian Jewish Institute (AJI), was conceptualised after much discussion with a wide and representative range of members and leaders of the Australian Jewish community. It is currently assessing the value of carrying out research into what is presently lacking in the Australian Jewish community, with a view to amplify important understandings of how to better serve the needs and support strategies, innovations and leadership to strengthen our community.

It is envisaged that the AJI's role would be to investigate and respond to issues that currently impact, or may impact in the future, on the Australian Jewish community, working in close collaboration with existing community structures. Some examples include antisemitism/racism, Israel, education, Holocaust, domestic violence, aged care, terrorism, poverty, multiculturalism, sport, orthodox-liberal-conservative relations and a whole array of other issues which are integral to the long-term sustainability and success of our community. The AJI would conduct rigorous research, conduct polls, publish journals, discussion and policy papers, make policy recommendations and involve itself with other typical think-tank activity that support developing best practice systems and empowered community outcomes.

While there are numerous Jewish community organisations doing an outstanding job dealing with a variety of issues relating to the Jewish community, the purpose of the AJI would be to collaborate, complement and add value to these established organisations, utilising their expertise and experience.

Aside from this, the AJI would also have numerous additional, unique roles. Currently there are no structured mechanisms in which general members of our community can provide feedback or contribute to the agenda and policies of the roof bodies in the states and at the national level. The AJI would provide this opportunity for all members of our community, including those individuals and communities who are either unaffiliated or have been marginalised, thereby empowering the entire Jewish community. This process of community consultations on a regular basis could be undertaken utilising a number of tools such as surveys, focus groups, advertisements and other research tools.

To best achieve its goals, it is envisaged that the AJI would maintain complete independence. This would occur through a number of strategies and regulations allowing it to truly and accurately reflect the views of the broad range of members of our community. Currently, many of our community organisations are interdependent with the same people serving on different boards. This works to strengthen specific goals but has the disadvantage of vested interest inevitably becoming an issue, limiting the scope and vision of the representation.

Ensuring the AJI would reflect the views of our diverse community in terms of agenda-setting and policy recommendation, and maintaining its independence, while being accountable and transparent will be a top priority for the AJI.

Another important emphasis of the AJI would be involving, supporting and developing the vision and leadership capacity of our most important capital - young people from our community. We would develop systems of mentorship and leadership that would harness their energy, develop new ideas and support purposeful action, without the distraction and resistance that inter-communal politics can sometimes present.

So far we have been strongly encouraged and heartened by the community feedback which has been extremely positive from a broad range of community representatives, including from those holding key leadership positions within our community.

All members of the community are strongly encouraged to become involved in this process and provide feedback regarding this proposal (email: or post: PO Box 2015 Caulfield Junction 3161).

For those interested in supporting this feasibility study and the development of the AJI vision, we are requiring additional funds to be raised and the community's generous support is sought. For those who would like to contribute, please make cheques payable to the Australian Jewish Institute.

At the conclusion of the process, the scoping study will be available to the public.


For further information, please contact Manny Waks at email: or post: PO Box 2015 Caulfield Junction 3161

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Tell us what you think

I couldn't agree more with the preceding post! Education is the key! And we need to recruit the youth and inspire and energise them to face these challenges.

Posted by Ronit on 2008-06-23 11:47:08 GMT

These communnity think tanks are a positve move and will undoutedly contribute resources to a much needed problem. However, whilst many countries are dealing with such problems from a top/down perspective, it has to be realised the the Arab propaganda machine is working from bottom/up. Their grass roots organisations are tackling for example the student population and the trade unions so that in the future there will be new leaders already indoctrinated into the Arab version of history. It is so important to have an education program which gives people the opportunity to learn the facts. I lecture extensively here in Israel to visitors and in industry also in the UK. I am always amazed (although I shouldn't be) how little people really know of the history of the Jews in general and Israel in particular

Posted by Haifadiarist on 2008-06-23 08:38:04 GMT