A MAJOR security upgrade to the Beth Weizmann Jewish Community Centre (BWJCC) is due to begin early next year after a final $500,000 was provided by the Victorian government.
Premier Daniel Andrews toured the building on Wednesday morning, alongside Federal Labor MP Josh Burns and a number of state MPs, before making the announcement that will allow the communal faculty to upgrade security and pay for fortification works.
“Our government stands in solidarity with Jewish Victorians – we always have and we always will,” Andrews said.
“In our proudly multicultural state, every Victorian should be able to practise their beliefs without fear.”
In 2014, while in Opposition, the Victorian Labor party pledged $500,000 for security upgrades to Beth Weizmann. They delivered on that promise when elected and later added a further $500,000.
Following calls from Andrews since 2014 for the federal Liberal government to match the state funding pledges, the federal government came to the party last September, pledging $1 million.
The final allocation of $500,000 from the state Labor government this week will allow building upgrades to finally get underway in January.
Welcoming the additional funding from the Premier, BWJCC chair Sam Tatarka told The AJN, “Throughout his tenure he has consistently demonstrated a deep understanding of the importance of supporting multiculturalism and the significant and historic role of the Jewish community in the life of our state.
“We look forward to finally bringing this project to fruition in the first half of next year.”
Federal MP Josh Burns, who previously worked for the Premier, said it was an honour to be involved in the project. “Even before becoming the Premier, Daniel Andrews has been absolutely committed to our Jewish community’s security needs.
“Beth Weizmann is home to Jewish culture, community and collaboration,” Burns said.
“Ensuring we have a safe place for our community organisations is essential and something that Daniel Andrews understands profoundly.”
Burns said that he was proud to play a small role in ensuring this funding as a candidate, and then as an adviser to the Premier.
“While I wish this funding wasn’t needed, we are seeing a rise in white nationalism and antisemitism and we must remain vigilant.”
Member for Box Hill Paul Hamer said the government is proud to support the centre, and the community.
“This is about giving people greater security and peace of mind when they visit,” he said.
Member for Southern Metropolitan Nina Taylor added, “We’re doing more to ensure everyone is free to be themselves and practise their beliefs safely.”