The Herbert & Valmae Freilich Project for the Study of Bigotry

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The Freilich Project supports research into the causes, the histories and the effects of ethnic, cultural, religious and sexual bigotry and animosity. It also promotes public discussion of how such intolerance can be combatted - and co-existence promoted - through educational and social programs. The Freilich Project runs a range of events including lectures, conferences and seminars, many of which are open to the public. An annual Small Grants Scheme supports emerging scholars in the field.

The Freilich Project was known as the Freilich Foundation from its establishment in July 1999 until December 2018. The Project is run by an advisory board and employs a Fellow to convene its activities. We welcome donations to continue the dialogue on prejudice and intolerance in our society.

Herbert and Valmae Freilich

The day I wish I had protested, by Herbert Freilich

In 1939 or 1940 I was 14 or 15 and a schoolboy at Sydney Grammar. I used to catch the bus outside Winns store in Oxford Street. At the bus-stop in Kings Cross a foreign-looking man asked the conductor a question — presumably a bus direction. He received a reply along the lines of: “Bloody reffo bastard. Learn to speak English why don't you. Get out of here.”

The conductor pulled the cord and the bus left leaving the man standing off the kerb. I was shocked. I was even more shocked at the reaction of the bus passengers. “Good on you mate. That’s the way to talk them. Reffo bastards. etc.”

I was stunned. I felt I should stand up and protest. But I didn’t. I sat silent. And have felt ashamed of myself ever since.

Perhaps the Foundation on Bigotry is the protest I did not make 60 years ago.

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