Australia

Muslim AFL star Bachar Houli welcomes youth work grant as government boosts anti-hate program

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg speaks with AFL player Bachar Houli during a visit to the Australian Islamic Centre in Melbourne, Friday, February 14, 2020. Source: AAP

The federal government has announced funding for two initiatives aimed at promoting diversity.

Two-time AFL premiership player Bachar Houli's goal to encourage Islamic youth leaders has earned an $850,000 federal grant for a new home.

The devout Muslim and Richmond defender will lead youth programs at the Australian Islamic Centre's new interfaith centre.

It will have eight classrooms, education programs, a library and gym.

"We are very, very passionate about making a difference in society," he said while accepting the federal money for the centre on Friday.

"(It is) being that role model for all kids, not just Muslim kids, growing up in Australia."

Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (R) during a visit to the Australian Islamic Centre in Melbourne, Friday, February 14, 2020.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg (R) during a visit to the Australian Islamic Centre in Melbourne, Friday, February 14, 2020.
AAP

The cash adds to the $1 million already raised by the Muslim community for the centre.

On Friday the Federal Government also announced $3 million for the Anti-Defamation Commission to roll out the "Click Against Hate" education program to 500 schools nationally.

This social media program, already in 150 schools, teaches primary and secondary students how to tackle racism, hatred and defamation.

"We know that the incidence of Islamophobia and anti-semitism have risen dramatically across the community," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

"That is why these programs are so important."

Labor MPs Tim Watts and Ed Husic aattended to show intolerance has no place in Australia, regardless of politics.

Dvir Abramovich, chairman of the Anti-Defamation Commission, said the funding comes at a critical time.

"When anti-Semitism, Islamophobia and all forms of racism have reached unprecedented levels and when bold, strong action is needed,” he said.

“We hope to send a clear message to all young people across this land: no matter where you come from, what your surname is, or how you look, you are not alone.”

Additional reporting by Greg Dyett

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