3 August 2023
Religious communities around Australia hope a new federal grant scheme will help ease their concerns about safety at places of worship.
The grants provide $40 million over four years to improve security at faith-based places, including religious schools and community centres.
The program will support security system upgrades such as fencing, lighting and engagement of security guards.
A Hindu Council of Australia communications director said most of the community’s temple leaders were in the process of applying for the funding because of growing security concerns.
The Reverend Bhakta Dasa said the defacement of some Hindu temples earlier this year, the community’s child safety efforts, and a few incidents with members of the public during on-site outreach activities, had become a focus.
“There are many new faith and multicultural groups coming into Australia, and the Hindu community is was one of the fastest growing of those groups. We want to be able to protect our places of worship as much as possible,” Mr Dasa said.
He said the community planned to install a range of security measures at its properties, including CCTV cameras inside and outside places of worship.
Temple leaders wanted to be able to capture and record any criminal incidents that might happen, and hand the footage to police for investigation, Mr Dasa said.
The Executive Council of Australian Jewry co-chief executive Peter Wertheim said Jewish institutions faced a growing level of risk, so upgrading the security infrastructure was not an optional extra for them.
Mr Wertheim said they had been assessed by Australian intelligence and law enforcement agencies and the council was told it was increasing.
He said Jewish places of worship carried significant costs in terms of security infrastructure, including cameras and security guards for that reason.
Mr Wertheim said under a previous Australian government program, funding had only been available for religious schools, and the new grant made it possible for all Jewish institutions to be eligible for security funding.
The Diocese of Melbourne has asked parishes interested in submitting an application for the grant to get in touch with its property department. The deadline for applications is 11 September.
For further inquiries, please contact PropertyDept@melbourneanglican.org.au