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More community security funding as fears grow about Nazi, Ustaše symbols

Deborah Stone
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More community security funding as fears grow about Nazi, Ustaše activity

Published: 19 May 2023

Last updated: 5 March 2024

Jewish community leaders met with Serbian leaders recently over concern about the use of Ustaše symbols in Australia.

The federal Government is providing $40 million in new grants to faith-based communities to secure their premises in the face of growing far-Right activity.

The new community grants are broader than previously offered and will allow places of worship, schools and community organisations to apply for recurrent funding for security guards as well as infrastructure such as fencing, lighting and security cameras.

The previous round of grants only provided recurrent funding to schools.

The office of Attorney-General Mark Dreyfus said the Securing Faith-Based Places grants program will be an open, competitive, and merit-based program and would ensure people of faith can practice their beliefs free from violence and discrimination.

The Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ) co-CEO Peter Wertheim said he expected many Jewish organisations would apply for and be successful in receiving grants.

 “The ECAJ has been making representations to the government since last year about the community’s need for assistance with funding for our ever-growing security costs. Australia has not been immune from the global surge in antisemitic activity in recent years, so the announcement is timely,” he said.

The funding comes as concern about far-Right activity in Australia increases. Last weekend far-Right demonstrators were seen performing Hitler salutes in front of Victoria’s Parliament.

The ECAJ recently met with three representatives from the Serbian Council of Australia (SCA), who had expressed concerns about Nazi activity within the Croatian community, where it said there appears to be prominent support for the use of Ustaše symbols. The far-Right Croatian Ustaše movement collaborated with Nazism and was responsible for war crimes during World War II.

Some members of the Croatian community are planning an event which celebrates the life of Croatian fascist and Nazi puppet Ante Pavelić.

This follows an incident at a football game last October when several fans of Sydney United 58 were captured on camera performing Nazi salutes or holding banners with ultranationalist symbols, while the larger supporter group across multiple bays repeatedly sang "Za Dom – spremni!" ("For homeland – ready!"): a chant associated with the Croatian Ustaše movement.

The federal Government is conducting an inquiry into a national ban on displaying the swastika; NSW and Victoria have already implemented a ban.

Jewish and Serbian leaders discussed the possibility of asking the government to extend the ban to other far-Right symbols, including those of the Ustaše, who were strongly aligned with Nazism in World War II.

But Wertheim said it was unlikely Australia would implement a broader ban.

A number of submissions to the federal inquiry have argued for a wider ban on Nazi symbols. But other submissions argued any attempt to define all symbols is likely to be easily circumvented.

Caption: A security guard at In One Voice Jewish community festival in Melbourne last month.(CSG)

About the author

Deborah Stone

Deborah Stone is Editor-in-Chief of TJI. She has more than 30 years experience as a journalist and editor, including as a reporter and feature writer on The Age and The Sunday Age, as Editor of the Australian Jewish News and as Editor of ArtsHub.

The Jewish Independent acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of Country throughout Australia. We pay our respects to Elders past and present, and strive to honour their rich history of storytelling in our work and mission.

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