ABC AM Program, Canberra - interview with Peta Donald

  • Transcript, E&OE

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN The Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop says she's deeply concerned about a growing number of young Australian women who she says are supporting the terrorist group Daesh, also known as Islamic State.

Ms Bishop says there are between 30 and 40 Australian women supporting the group, with some flying to Iraq and Syria, and other supporters based here in Australia.

She spoke to Peta Donald.

JULIE BISHOP There is this phenomena of jihadi bride, and this means that young women are either attracted to a male foreign terrorist fighter, they are going with their male partner to Syria and Iraq - or in some instances they are actually looking for a partner and are being told online that there are opportunities for them in Syria and Iraq.

Others are just supporting a terrorist organisation because they've been radicalised, either through a group or online.

PETA DONALD What is the Government doing to try and reach out to these young women? What can you do to stop them getting involved?

JULIE BISHOP We have a number of community initiatives and programs, working with local communities, working with schools, working with families. Our initiatives in tackling the spread of online extremist content on websites is also part of that, working with local mosques, working with community groups.

This is a terrorist organisation that has an appalling track record when it comes to women. They actually have online instructions on how to treat a sex slave. They encourage sexual assault on children who haven't even reached puberty.

So their attitude towards women is utterly appalling and so young women shouldn't be led to believe that there's some romantic adventure attached to supporting Daesh and similar terrorist organisations.

PETA DONALD But how do you as a Government get through to these young women? You say that you're working with community leaders.

JULIE BISHOP Yes, we have committed $545 million to programs to counter terrorism, counter radicalisation and we're working very closely with community groups, with mosques, with schools, with families to ensure that we can get this message through.

PETA DONALD Do you think the Prime Minister's undermined the relationship with those Muslim leaders who you're trying to work with with his comments this week that he wished that more Muslim leaders would speak up and say that Islam is a religion of peace?

JULIE BISHOP In fact more Muslim leaders are speaking out. We are working very closely with mosques around the country.

PETA DONALD But they've been offended by the Prime Minister's comments.

JULIE BISHOP I don't believe they have. We're working very closely with mosques in a number of instances and we have been given information about young people who are seeking to travel to Syria and Iraq from community leaders themselves. So they are working hand in glove with the Australian Government to ensure that we can stop young people being radicalised and supporting terrorist organisations.

PETA DONALD On the stoush between the Human Rights Commission president, Gillian Triggs and your Government, do you feel it's been an unnecessary distraction this week?

JULIE BISHOP It certainly is a distraction from the issue at hand, which is the report on children in detention, and I'm proud of the fact...

PETA DONALD But has the Government...

JULIE BISHOP ..that this Government has managed to reduce the number of children in detention from the record high under Labor of 2,000 children in detention, under the previous Labor Government.

It's now down to about 120. We're working very hard to ensure that there are no children in detention so that should be the focus of our attention, the children in detention.

PETA DONALD And do you think the Prime Minister should have said that in the first place rather than attacking the President of the Human Rights Commission and making that the story?

JULIE BISHOP He has said it repeatedly, that the Australian Government has reduced the numbers of children in detention and we are deeply concerned that when the number was 2,000, the Human Rights Commission deemed it too political to hold an enquiry but now that we've got it down to under 200, the Human Rights Commission deems it not too political to hold an enquiry. And that is of deep concern and I think that's the kind of concern that we should raise and the Human Rights Commission should answer that.

MICHAEL BRISSENDEN Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, speaking to Peta Donald.

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