Australia has appointed a special envoy to counter antisemitism and preserve “social cohesion”, and will soon appoint a special envoy for addressing Islamophobia.

This comes amid concerns about rising community tension over the Israel-Gaza war.

The BBC reports that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese announced that lawyer and businesswoman Jillian Segal would consult with community leaders and discrimination experts to advise the government.

The appointment brings Australia in line with countries such as the US, Canada, Greece and the UK, which have all had similar positions for years.

Albanese said a special envoy for addressing Islamophobia would be appointed soon.

According to the BBC, the ongoing conflict in the Middle East has become a volatile political issue in Australia. It has resulted in protests from both Jewish and Muslim communities, as well as a sharp uptick in Islamophobia and antisemitism.

The announcement has been welcomed by the national body for the Australian Jewish community − a group Ms Segal led until last year – which says she will “bring deep knowledge of the issues and immense energy to the role”.

However other groups, including The Jewish Council of Australia, which has been critical of Israel’s actions in Gaza, and the Australia Palestine Advocacy Network (APAN), say they fear it will worsen division.

APAN said: “It also risks further entrenching the concerning pattern of antisemitism being conflated with criticism of the state of Israel or with support for Palestine.”