NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet spoke at the NSW Faith Communities Forum. Photo: Giselle Haber

Carly Adno
The Australian Jewish News
March 2, 2023

NSW Labor leader Chris Minns has made an election pledge of $15 million to boost the safety and security of religious communities, a week after NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet announced the Liberals and Nationals would invest $10 million to the same cause.

Both Minns and Perrottet made the announcements while addressing separate NSW Faith Communities Forums, an initiative driven by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies (JBD) and co-hosted by other faith groups.

The AJN understands the newly formed Religious Communities Advisory Council, of which NSW JBD CEO Darren Bark is a founding member, was instrumental in securing both funding commitments. The council’s first meeting was held in January this year, and focused on the safety and security needs of faith communities.

If elected, Minns said his NSW Faith Affairs Council would provide a “formal channel of communication between faith organisations and my government”.

“I became leader in the middle of the pandemic, so I got to see firsthand the work of our faith communities in NSW and it was extraordinary,” Minns said.

“NSW is served best when its faith communities and its government work together.”

A Minns Labor government will establish a Premier’s Prevention Panel on Racism and Extremism to address the growing safety concerns of faith and culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) communities in NSW.

The panel will include senior representatives of NSW agencies working with CALD and faith leaders to identify issues and to develop whole-of-government responses.

“NSW needs a comprehensive approach so we can respond to hate crimes when they occur and help prevent them in the first place,” Minns said.

“The roots of racism and extremism begin long before it manifests itself into acts of violence and destruction, and Labor’s policy will tackle the issue at the source. Everyone deserves to be treated with tolerance and respect, no matter your faith, where you come from, or how you look.”

NSW JBD president David Ossip welcomed both Labor’s and Liberal’s commitments to combating racism in NSW.

“Antisemitic and other faith-based hate incidents are at the highest levels NSW has ever seen,” Ossip said.

“Unfortunately, not only are the threats against our communities increasing, but also the costs of protecting them, so we welcome NSW Labor’s bipartisan support for security funding.

“We thank the NSW government and the members of the Religious Communities Advisory Council who have made this a reality.”

Last week, Perrottet announced a re-elected NSW Liberals and Nationals government will invest $10 million through a grants program.

“My faith is obviously very important to me, just like it is for millions of people across our great state,” Perrottet said.

“No matter where you’re from, what language you speak, or the faith you follow, everyone deserves tolerance and respect in our state.”