NSW Government to invest in greater safety and security for faith communities

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A re-elected NSW Liberal and Nationals Government will invest $10 million over four years to boost safety and security for faith communities.

Through a $10 million grants program, faith organisations will be supported to strengthen safety and security at religious institutions where there is a demonstrated risk, including places of worship, schools, community centres, and buildings with religious symbols.

NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said everyone across the state should be able to follow and practice their faith freely and without fear or concern for their safety and wellbeing.

“No matter where you’re from, what language you speak, or the faith you follow, everyone deserves tolerance and respect in our state,” Mr Perrottet said. “This commitment will build on this principle to protect communities, increase tolerance and ultimately help people feel safer.”

The $10 million program will provide capital and operational funding for a range of safety measures to strengthen preparedness and response to safety risks, including security and detection software and systems, communal security services, lighting, fencing, CCTV, training staff, and well-being programs for community members.

Importantly, support for guards and management of security at high-risk venues or particularly at-risk sites will also be eligible for funding, as assessed by NSW Police.

NSW Minister for Multiculturalism Mark Coure said this investment will empower faith groups and organisations to do what they need in order to keep their communities safe.

“We have worked incredibly hard over the years to foster a multicultural and multi-faith society built on mutual respect, understanding and harmony. This investment forms part of our vision to ensure that continues,” Mr Coure said.

Greater safety and security for faith communities in NSW. Photo: Freerangestock

Welcoming the announcement, NSW Jewish Board of Deputies CEO Darren Bark said anti-Semitic incidents are at their highest levels NSW has ever seen.

“An attack on one faith is an attack on us all, and this much-needed funding will go a long way to keeping all communities in NSW safe from harm,” Mr Bark said.

“Hate leads to violence, and today’s announcement ensures faith communities are equipped to deter violent attacks, and assists authorities with the prosecution of the offenders.

“We thank the NSW Government and the members of the Religious Communities Advisory Council, who have made this a reality.”

Australian National Imams Council President Sheikh Shadi Alsuleiman also welcomed the announcement.

“Islamophobia and other faith-based hate is on the rise, and all of our institutions need ongoing support in order to be protected,” Mr Alsuleiman said.

“Safety and security was identified as a priority when the Council was formed, and with increasing threats to our communities from right-wing extremists. We are very grateful to the NSW Government for this important funding.”

This commitment complements a range of measures implemented by the NSW Liberals and Nationals to improve community safety and social cohesion, including prohibiting the public display of Nazi symbols and creating a new offence of publicly threatening or inciting violence against people on several grounds, including race and religious affiliation.

The NSW Government consulted with the new Religious Communities Advisory Council on safety and security during its inaugural meeting on Monday, 23 January 2023.

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