Double standards at play in government funding allocation: APAN

Mar 25, 2024

The Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN) has added its voice to criticisms from the community over the double standards at play in the Australian Government’s allocation of funding for Palestinian and Muslim community members impacted by Israel’s ongoing genocide in Gaza.

The Australian Government in October announced a total of $50 million funding for projects addressing the “safety, security, mental health and social cohesion” of communities impacted by the ongoing violence in Palestine and Israel, with a total of $25 million already allocated to the Executive Council of Australian Jewry (ECAJ).

The remaining $25 million funding was earmarked for organisations that “provide direct support to Australian Palestinian, Muslim and other communities, who…have also been deeply affected by the conflict,” and was to be used “in response to the particular needs of local communities.”

However, five months on from this announcement, only $7 million of the money has been allocated – $2 million to SBS, $1 million to AAP, $2 million to the Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) and $1 million each to the Islamophobia Register and Australian National Imams Council.

The government has identified 13 other organisations that will share in $1.25 million, although none of these organisations are Palestinian.

APAN is deeply concerned that the bulk of the funds allocated so far are for broad national programs that provide no direct support to Australian Palestinians, and that this funding should have instead been allocated to organisations working to provide tangible, community-level support to Palestinian Australians during these past horrific months.

APAN believes the SBS, AAP and AHRC national programs – which will also benefit the Jewish community – should also have been funded by a portion of the money allocated to the Jewish community.

APAN is also distressed that a bulk amount of $25 million was allocated to a single organisation for the Jewish community almost immediately following the announcement of the funding, while Palestinians, Muslim and Arab communities are still waiting for the funds to be delivered more than five months later.

Quotes attributed to APAN President Nasser Mashni:

“It’s hard to know what is more offensive – that it has taken more than five months for the government to start dripping this funding out when it seemed to only take a matter of weeks for ECAJ to be allocated its $25 million, or that the organisations doing the hard work of trying to hold our community together at this horrific time seem to have been actively snubbed.

“What we need right now is support for the mental health, wellbeing, care and social inclusion of families whose loved ones have been massacred by Israel, and support for Palestinians to settle here once they have fled Israel’s genocide with nothing but the clothes on their backs.

“The groups providing this kind of direct support have been running on the blood, sweat and tears of volunteers for more than five months, and these volunteers are as traumatised and impacted by the genocide in Gaza as the people they are trying to help.

“This is the type of government decision-making that leaves the Palestinian community feeling abandoned and excluded, and tears at the so-called social cohesion of our society, even as the government claims it is trying to repair it.

“This seems to be one more example of government double standards and racism, in that funding that was touted as being specifically for people impacted by this genocide is actually going to broad national projects that are directed at the entire Australian community – the Jewish community included.

“Why weren’t some of the funds allocated to the Jewish community also directed to SBS, the AAP and AHRC?

“This treatment compounds the trauma, betrayal and grief felt by our community, and the government must commit itself to treating us fairly and with compassion to prevent further harm from coming to Palestinians in Australia.”