Australian Religious Groups Will Receive Grants To Boost Security
Schools and places of worship eligible
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 on Monday.
"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 on Tuesday, and a further funding round will be open in June.