There has been much concern and discussion recently about the brutal killings in Syria and Iraq by ISIS militants. This concern has been heightened by the presence and involvement of Australian citizens in these atrocities. A number of constituents have contacted my office to raise their concerns.
Latest estimates are that some 60 Australians are actively involved with a further 100 Australians facilitating their activities.
This brings the risk of terrorism related activities to our shore when these people start to return to Australia. We should not view this as an idle threat as Australians have been arrested and jailed for terrorism offences in the past.
This is why the government is investing additional funds to start to combat this radicalisation before it starts.
As part of its $630 million Counter-Terrorism package the Government will invest:
- $13.4 million to strengthen community engagement programmes in Australia with an emphasis on preventing young Australians from becoming involved with extremist groups;
- $6.2 million to establish a new Australian Federal Police Community Diversion and Monitoring Team for returning foreign fighters and those who support them;
- $32.7 million for a multi-agency national disruption group to investigate, prosecute and disrupt foreign fighters and their supporters; and
- $11.8 million for the Australian Federal Police to bolster its ability to respond to the threat of foreign fighters at home and abroad including local and regional Liaison Officers and two new investigative teams to help reduce the threat of extremists leaving Australia.
In consultation with the community, packages will be developed to address the particular requirements of young Australians at risk and may include youth diversion activities, healthcare, mentoring, employment and educational pathway support and counselling.
There will be referral and support processes for individuals at risk to help them disengage from their activities and we will combat online radicalisation with education programmes and by working with communities, industry and overseas partners.
The Government has been heartened by the strong support shown by local Islamic leaders for action against radicalisation and extremism.
More information about work to counter violent extremism is available at www.livingsafetogether.gov.au