Question Time - building resistance to the radicalisation of young people and countering the threat of foreign fighters

  • Transcript, E&OE

Ms JULIE BISHOP (Curtin–Minister for Foreign Affairs) (14:38): I thank the member for Reid for his question. I acknowledge the support that he gives to communities in his electorate, particularly the work he is doing with Muslim communities in Reid, and I know that the member for Reid would want me to recognise in that regard the work of the members for Watson and Blaxland.

The government is determined to prevent vulnerable young people leaving Australia to join the terrorist conflict in Syria and Iraq and to counter the radicalisation of our citizens that leads to it. In a relatively recent phenomenon, vulnerable members of our community are being radicalised online, seduced through social media with a simplistic and violent narrative of terrorist organisations, particularly Daesh.

The government has a clear strategy for working with our communities to build resilience to counter this extremist narrative and to combat radicalisation. We have increased community engagement to highlight our humanitarian contribution to those who are suffering in Syria and Iraq. We are challenging the lies that Daesh spreads to demonise those who oppose its demented ideology.

Through one of our outreach programs, Living Safe Together, we are helping communities work with individuals at risk of radicalisation through mentoring and coaching, education and employment. We are identifying and shutting down terrorist websites. We are removing extremist content. We are addressing the impact and appeal of extremist narratives on Australian audiences and we have made advocating terrorism an offence under the Criminal Code.

But to be successful in our efforts, the government cannot do it alone. Our National Security Hotline–1800 123 400–has now taken well over 200,000 calls from the public and the hotline remains a key tool for the community to provide information and intelligence on a range of security related matters. Indeed, based on the advice of our law enforcement and intelligence agencies, over 100 passports of those seeking to travel to the terrorist conflict have been cancelled.

I express my gratitude to the brothers, sisters, parents and friends of those who have taken the step of calling the National Security Hotline, going to the police or seeking the help of community leaders to save a loved one before it is too late. The actions of these people provide a vital source of information for our security agencies.

Virtually all Australians are appalled by Daesh and its barbaric activities. Our Muslim community, its leaders and its mosques play an important and essential role in combating extremism. They are working to counter the lies and deceit spread by Daesh, and to prevent members of our community from heading down the path to radicalisation.

I thank all Muslim community leaders for this vital support. I applaud all those who are opposing extremism and helping prevent the flow of foreign terrorist fighters, finance and other support to terrorist organisations. Through these partnerships with our communities, the government is taking firm steps to keep our people safe from terrorism.

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