THE NSW Jewish community’s vital security infrastructure will get a much-needed upgrade with a $2.2 million grant from the federal government.
The funding, which has been committed regardless of the result of the October 20 Wentworth by-election, was announced by Liberal candidate Dave Sharma during a visit to the Community Security Group (CSG) earlier this week.
Around $1.685 million will fund backbone security infrastructure such as command and control and nerve centres at CSG, while more than $500,000 will go to individual institutions, including schools and synagogues, to upgrade their own facilities like CCTV cameras and other security infrastructure.
The funding, which is predominantly for sites in Wentworth, is in addition to money already provided through the government’s Safer Communities Fund.
It will be channelled through the Council for Jewish Community Security (CJCS).
“What this will allow us to do is better protect the community and its institutions and people. It’s in response of course to identified community needs,” Sharma said.
“From a higher level, what it represents is the government’s commitment to keeping Australians safe, keeping communities strong, keeping the country together.”
The AJN understand the community has been seeking more than $3 million for much-needed security upgrades.
“It’s not the entirety that the Council [for Jewish Community Security] is seeking but we will certainly be looking at the whole, the entire body of requests over time. But we wanted to get this announcement done quickly in recognition of the quite acute needs.”
NSW Jewish Board of Deputies president Lesli Berger warmly welcomed the announcement.
“The federal government’s grant will help ensure that the security risks faced by the Jewish community are reduced,” he said.
“We thank Dave Sharma for his advocacy in securing this grant and we thank the federal government for understanding the fundamental needs of our community, which will go a significant way to ensuring that Jews can live their lives in safety and continue to contribute productively to Australia.”
ECAJ co-CEO Peter Wertheim said, “This is a much-needed initiative to assist the Jewish community to meet its ever-increasing security costs, which the ECAJ has been advocating for some time.
“Ensuring the safety and security of all citizens is the first duty of any government,” he continued.
“Dave Sharma is to be congratulated for pursuing this matter so energetically. We thank him and the federal government for recognising the importance and urgency of this issue for our community.”
CJCS chairman Peter Wise said, “Over the years we’ve built the community’s security infrastructure and professionalism. The benefit we have in NSW is that we have a unified security infrastructure with oversight by CJCS and operations by CSG.
“This funding further enhances our unified capacity by enabling us to upgrade our infrastructure. Over the years so much more security considerations have come down to technology and we’ve become more dependent on it.
“Technology moves at a rapid pace and the cost therefore increases at a rapid pace, so this enables us to keep up with that and at the same time deliver to the Jewish community of NSW enhanced capabilities for their welfare and safety, and we’re very very grateful for it.”
Labor’s Wentworth candidate Tim Murray also welcomed the grant, saying, “The safety and security of Jewish schools, community centres and places of worship is above the political fray and we welcome this grant which is long overdue.”