Australia’s religious schools and places of worship are being offered an extra $55 million in community grants to boost their security after the Christchurch mosque massacre.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says religious freedom starts with the right to worship and meet in safety.
“This must be the first freedom we secure, to practice their faith in safety, other (freedoms) should follow,” Mr Morrison told Jewish leaders in Melbourne today.
MOSQUE SHOOTER UNDER 24-7 WATCH
CHRISTCHURCH SCHOOLS GRAPPLE WITH GRIEF
YOUNGEST VICTIM OF NZ TERROR WAS AN OLD SOUL
“Religious freedom is not just an inalienable right as free citizens. It is important to the very cohesion of our society. It is for many Australians impossible to separate their faith from their culture.”
Religious groups will be offered grants worth between $50,000 and $1.5 million to spend on security measures such as CCTV cameras, lighting, fencing, bollards, alarms and loudspeaker systems.
The money will be made available through an “acceleration and extension” of a community fund that has provided $70 million to schools, preschools, community groups and local councils since 2016.
A schools security program has also provided about $6 million a year to schools at risk of attack, harassment or violence stemming from racial or religious intolerance.
Mr Morrison said faith-based organisations would be given priority access to the public funding.
“I so wish we didn’t need this on places of worship in Australia, whether they be at temples or schools or mosques or churches,” he said.
“It grieves me that this is necessary, but sadly it is.
“If further resources are required I promise you, I guarantee you, it will be delivered.”
The next round of applications for the grants opens tomorrow, and a further funding round will be open in June.
Meanwhile, Mr Morrison said while social media companies did cooperate with requests to shut the terror livestream down, they were unable to due to limitations.
“There needs to be the capability to shut these horrific things down,” he said.
TEEN FRONTS COURT OVER ALLEGED SHOOTINGS LIVESTREAM MORE CLUES EMERGE FROM AUSTRALIAN GUNMAN’S LIFE THE VICTIMS AND THE MISSING
He said solutions could not be rushed into and more than a knee-jerk reaction was needed to stop such repeat events.
Mr Morrison said it was not just social media that concerned it about the spread of hate – with online gaming also a concern.
“We cant ignore the possible impact of this also on how that can affect the twisted minds of those who engage in this sort of violence,” he said.
He said it was not an “accusation”, rather an “observation” that there were many things needed to help protect Australians.