Darebin Council in Melbourne's north is doing the hiring, using a grant from the Federal Attorney General Rober McClelland's Counter Violent Extremism Fund.
The successful applicant will be paid $66,000 a year.
As a ratepayer Vicki Janson says the community was never consulted, and as the Deputy President of the Q Society - a group concerned with the Islamification of Australia - she's outraged.More stories from Today Tonight
“We're for integration not segregation, and really for upholding what we would call Australian values,” Janson said.
The Attorney General sees the plan as a way of building a strong and cohesive society, and resilience in the community against extremism.
The job description states that the officer’s role will be to "Strengthen the Islamic Society of Victoria and (find) how they can be more effective in the community". Also to implement strategies that assist the Islamic Society to dispel myths and misconceptions about Muslims and Islam.
It’s an honourable pursuit, but should ratepayers be footing the bill to promote one religion over another?
The Ratepayers Association's Jack Davis asks “are we going to subsidise all these other religions for the same sort of thing?”
Nazeem Hussein is spokesperson for the Islamic Council of Victoria and says the initiative is all about educating Anglo-Australians, not recruiting for the Islamic faith.
“I think Australians do need to perhaps step out and understand people who aren't from an Anglo-Saxon background. We do in Australia have a problem with not really understanding our diverse, multi-cultural, multi-religious groups that do exist within this broad society,” he said.
“I think a lot of the critics actually have that fear or that lack of understanding about what it means to be Muslim and these sorts of people would actually be natural participants in this program.”
The Attorney General declined to be interviewed but in a statement revealed the Gillard Government has spent more than $9.7 million on similar initiatives to counter radicalisation in our communities - from sporting clubs to Islamic Associations and Arabic social services.
However, no program like this for any other religious group has ever been run before, so the question that remains unanswered is why now?
“This isn't specifically targeted at benefiting a section of the community, it's targeted at benefiting the whole community, so we need to keep that in mind,” Hussein said.
The job description says nothing about having to be a Muslim to apply for the position.Media Statement from Darebin Mayor Cr Diana Asmar
'Darebin Muslims Reaching Out' – Project Officer position
The purpose of Darebin’s 12 month Federal Government funded ‘Darebin Muslims Reaching Out’ project officer position is to build links between Islamic community groups and the wider Darebin community.
This project is one example of how Darebin works towards removing barriers to community participation for its many diverse communities, which it does through a broad range of programs.
Over the 12 month period, the officer will be employed to develop and implement activities that help to dispel myths and misconceptions about Islam and Muslims. The officer will work with the Islamic Society of Victoria and the local community to help develop a range of activities and manage relationships; organise activities that engage the Muslim community in broader community events and vice versa, such as festivals and celebrations across Darebin, with a focus on young people.
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