$4.7m boost to school security

THIRTEEN Jewish schools have received a $4.7 million security boost in the third round of funding for the federal 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 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.

Melbourne Ports 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.

Principal of Mount Scopus Memorial College Rabbi James Kennard said that while the school had not been recently victimised, strict security measures remain crucial.

“We will be spending it on three areas improving perimeter fencing, expanding the CCTV coverage and improving alarms,” he said of the $738,000 received by Mount Scopus in the third round.

“We feel it’s been a very worthwhile grant from the government.”

The Australian Council of Jewish Schools (ACJS) applauded continuing government commitment to assist security needs of Jewish schools. “Our schools in rounds one and two of the Secure Schools Program received $11.9 million. These funds have already been applied to improving security at our schools and reducing significantly the risk of being the subject of racially or religiously motivated incidents,” said executive director Leonard Hain.

He said the ACJS anticipated additional grants under the pre-school security program and looked forward to ongoing support from the Australian government.

The Melbourne schools receiving funds during the latest round are Adass Israel School, Bialik College, Leibler Yavneh College, Yeshivah-Beth Rivkah Colleges, Sholem Aleichem, The King David School and Mount Scopus.