September 28, 2017 06:12:44
A multi-million-dollar authorities helpline set as much as strengthen other folks nervous their circle of relatives or buddies is also liable to violent extremism seems to be failing to achieve traction.
Step Together helpline was once set as much as struggle radicalisation and violent extremism
NSW Minister David Elliot says it has won “around five phone calls” in two months
Members of Muslim network say other folks “don’t trust” the helpline
The Step Together helpline was once introduced in June via the New South Wales Minister for Counter Terrorism, David Elliot.
Costing $three.nine million over 3 years, the initiative is a part of a $47 million program designed to struggle radicalisation following the homicide of NSW police accountant Curtis Cheng.
The helpline markets itself as an recommendation and counselling provider, and is staffed via skilled counsellors seven days every week from 7:00am to nine:00pm.
But Mr Elliot has showed the helpline had most effective won “around five phone calls” in the two months since its release.
One supply, who spoke to the ABC on situation of anonymity, mentioned: “It costs millions, but only a few people have called it. One call was a wrong number, the other was a parent worried their kid was dating a Muslim.”
Prominent Muslim network leaders have additionally advised the ABC they warned the NSW Government the helpline was once not going to be relied on if it was once related to intelligence amassing or policing companies.
Despite this, Mr Elliott mentioned the Government anticipated the low quantity of calls to extend, “as the marketing efforts gradually expand”.
He added that the related site had won 800 hits.
Mr Elliot refused to mention when the expanded advertising and marketing would happen or whether or not it might value extra money.
The Minister insisted the helpline had the strengthen of the network.
“Early response from a number of community organisations about Step Together have been positive and many have appreciated being engaged about the initiative,” he mentioned.
Helpline considered with suspicion in Muslim network
But distinguished individuals of Sydney’s Muslim network, and terrorism professionals have advised the ABC a special tale.
Dr Jamal Rifi mentioned launching the helpline below the counter-terrorism ministry doomed the provider. (ABC News)
“In theory it ticks the boxes. In reality, and in the streets of south-west Sydney, nobody is going to use this helpline because, they don’t trust it,” Dr Jamal Rifi mentioned from his clinical observe in the Sydney suburb of Belmore.
“We have always said that such an initiative needs to be arm’s length from security agencies [and] from police.”
The helpline is administered via an impartial contractor however Dr Rifi mentioned launching it below the Ministry for Counter Terrorism intended the provider was once doomed.
“I doubt it very much — people [using] this hotline … it is going to be seen as embedded to the anti-terror sphere rather than the health, preventative-action sphere,” he mentioned.
An professional in de-radicalisation on the Australian National University, Dr Clarke Jones, mentioned government had been specializing in the unsuitable issues.
“Everything to do with Muslim communities is to do with security and intelligence,” he mentioned. “Life does not paintings like that.
“You’ll to find there may be a lot more issues round home violence and early life suicide, drug and alcohol offending. Violent extremism is also lower than 1 in keeping with cent.
“So when you’re dealing or working with Muslim communities, it just doesn’t make sense that the whole focus and all this money is placed in violent extremism.”
Dr Jones desires governments to take on the indications that result in radicalisation.
“If you put money towards social services or building community capacity, the outcome would be better. In fact, you’d reduce the chances of violent extremism,” he mentioned.
Program ‘neatly meant however offered unsuitable method’
Counter-terrorism professional and director of Intelligent Risks Neil Fergus mentioned: “To be frank, the most effective tools that we have within Australia, in terms of community engagement, are the personal contacts being made by ASIO officers and police officers”.
Mr Fergus mentioned network liaison officials, whilst obviously related to Government enforcement companies, had been prematurely about who they had been. He mentioned some network individuals may just suspect Step Together was once a entrance for intelligence amassing.
“There are understandable concerns in a lot of the target communities about who they are talking too and how it will be actioned … whereas, the National Security Hotline, all these matters are well known.”
The National Security Hotline was once arrange in 2002 in the wake of the fear assaults at the World Trade Centre and, nearer to house, the Bali bombings.
The hotline obviously states its function as a reporting line, with knowledge won relayed to ASIO, and federal and state police.
It won five,293 calls in the two months of July and August this 12 months.
By distinction, Step Together — which won 5 calls — is observed via some as sending blended messages to customers. It promotes itself as a spot to hunt recommendation and counselling, however is overseen via the Minister for Counter Terrorism.
“His role is seen in our community to hit hard people who pose any threat to this country, which is rightfully his role. But the fact that he is [also] calling people to call this helpline … it’s not going to work,” Dr Rifi mentioned.
Dr Jones believes this system, “was well intended but I think it was sold in the wrong way”.
“At some point, it’s got to come out of the national security space. When it does, I think you’ll find there is more community buy-in,” he mentioned.
The ABC requested the Minister’s workplace if it might believe shifting the helpline out of the Counter-Terrorism Ministry and into Social Services.
A spokesperson mentioned it was once a “hypothetical” and it was once now not keen to remark at this degree.
For now, the Minister stands via the initiative.
“We only need one successful phone call and the helpline has paid for itself,” Mr Elliot mentioned.
September 28, 2017 06:01:40