Hillsong Church maintains its youth camps are “not music festivals,” after NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said he was “completely shocked” to see video of participants partying without masks at a summer camp near Newcastle and NSW Health called for an immediate end to singing and dancing.
Mr Perrottet said the organization should be fined if it is found to violate COVID-19 restrictions, which prohibit singing and dancing at music festivals, venues, nightclubs, entertainment facilities and major leisure facilities. The ordinance does not apply to religious services.
“I understand Hillsong making sure this doesn’t happen again. But I was incredibly disappointed, ”said Perrottet. “These rules are not here for fun.”
In a statement released today, Hillsong Church said its camps are Christian in orientation and include worship services, and that over the three days “the percentage of time spent singing is minor.”
He said he had “always followed public health orders prescribed by each government”, viewed the safety of participants and the wider community as priorities for the church, and took COVID safety procedures seriously. including the presence of professional paramedics on site and testing capabilities. .
“It is important to clarify that the current youth camps that we are running are not music festivals,” Hillsong said.
“These are high school events that include sports and games. These are non-alcoholic events, organized outdoors, and the number of students attending each camp is just over 200. The students are known to us and are part of the same social network.
“All of these factors have been reported by the NSW government as low risk as described in current guidelines.”
Hillsong said he regretted making it sound like he was not playing his part and apologized to the community at large.
“We have since spoken to NSW Health and have been instructed to stop singing and dancing by worshipers / students during services that are taking place at the campsite and have immediately and voluntarily implemented this instruction,” the statement said.