Prime Minister Scott Morrison yesterday announced $55 million in grants to toughen security at places of worship and religious schools amid growing concerns about extremism in the wake of the Christchurch terrorist attack. Source: The Age.
Mr Morrison committed the new funding in a speech yesterday that emphasised the need to defend freedom of religion by protecting Australians at their places of worship.
The grants will range in size from $50,000 to $1.5 million and will be made available for safety measures such as closed-circuit television cameras, lighting, fencing, bollards, alarms, security systems and public address systems.
“When I say I believe in religious freedom – and I am one of its staunchest defenders in Parliament – I know it starts with the right to worship and meet safely without fear,” Mr Morrison told the Australia-Israel Chamber of Commerce yesterday.
“Religious freedom is not just an inalienable right as free citizens. It is import to the very cohesion of our society. It is for many Australians impossible to separate their faith from their culture.
“Now this announcement, along with everything else we have announced over recent years is ‘the how’ of keeping people safe – and we’ll keep investing and working on ‘the how’, because the greatest responsibility of any government is to keep Australians safe.”
Mr Morrison will link the new funding to an existing program, called Safer Communities, that has provided about $70 million over the past three years in grants for schools, preschools, community organisations and local councils.
The proposal to expand this program has been under way for several months.
The $55 million commitment is being billed as an “acceleration and extension” of the existing scheme and will give priority to religious schools, places of religious worship and religious assembly.
The funds will be available to protect places of worship such as churches, mosques, synagogues and temples.
PM announces $55 m in security grants for places of worship (The Australian)