NINE months after the synagogue at Masada College in St Ives was destroyed by fire, the school has received a grant for a security and fire detection system upgrade.
Masada is one of 13 Jewish schools across the country to share a $4.7 million boost for security in the third round of funding for the Australian government’s Secure Schools Program.
Announced last week by Minister for Home Affairs and Minister for Justice Jason Clare, the latest round of funding follows $19.8 million in total grants for safety upgrades to 54 schools across Australia.
Aimed at schools at risk of racial, religious or ethnically motivated violence, the program provides schools with capital funding for safety infrastructure, including fencing, closed-circuit television, bollards and improved lighting.
“Parents have the right to expect their children will be safe at school,” said Clare.
“That’s why the federal government is providing this funding.”
Under the three rounds of the Secure Schools Program, 17 Jewish schools received over $16 million – 56 per cent of the program’s funding.
Masada received $419,581 in the latest round to fund several security measures, including fencing and screening, a visitor monitoring system, CCTV and a portable boom gate.
President Trevor Lorge said the support of the government to ensure the safety of Jewish schools was “well appreciated and important”.
“The funding is important to make sure we keep our school safe,” he said.
“We’ll be using it for a variety of additional infrastructure, both for the primary school and the high school.”
Jewish MP Michael Danby said safety upgrades would improve life for school communities.
“The Australian government is determined via tough anti-terrorist laws and this program to ensure that events like the massacre outside the Chabad kindergarten in Toulouse do not occur in Australia,” he said.
Danby, who serves on the Intelligence Committee that has just re-proscribed four terrorist organisations, said he had worked hard with the Jewish community to ensure its schools received adequate protection.
“The upgrades will give peace of mind to students and teachers as they get on with their day-to-day learning,” he said.
Also in the third round, Kesser Torah College received $226,028, Yeshiva College $519,000 and Mount Sinai College $481,000.
GARETH NARUNSKY AND LIVIA ALBECK-RIPKA
Michael Danby (left) points out the security upgrades at Melbourne’s Sholem Alechem College to Home Affairs Minister Jason Clare earlier this year.