Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant or accept liability for the accuracy or usefulness of the transcripts. These are copied directly from the broadcaster's website.
Schools to be given help to recognise warning signs of radicalisation -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

ELIZABETH JACKSON: The Federal Government is working on a new strategy to help teachers recognise the signs of teenagers who've been radicalised.

The Government is concerned that the threat of home-grown terrorism in Australia is increasingly being driven by younger individuals.

The new measures come four months after a 15 year old boy shot dead a New South Wales police employee in western Sydney, as our reporter Bridget Brennan reports.

BRIDGET BRENNAN: The Federal Government wants school staff around the country to be trained to spot emerging signs of radicalisation in students.

Professor Greg Barton welcomes the move. He's an expert on countering violent extremism in young people.

GREG BARTON: The patterns of behavioural change to watch out for could be for any kind of radicalisation. But the particular group of concern at the moment is Islamic State, or the so-called Islamic State movement.

And we have seen literally hundreds of young Australians radicalised and recruited or attempted to be recruited. We've seen probably several hundred travel to the Middle East and at least 45 of them have sadly been killed.

We've seen hundreds others prevented from travel. So when we think about the number of families affected, the number of young lives, that's a lot. And that is more in the last 18 months than we've experienced really in the last 18 years.

BRIDGET BRENNAN: The anti-radicalisation schools strategy will be developed by Monash University's Global Terrorism Research Centre.

The Government believes schools are the new front line of defence against radicalisation and threats to social cohesion. But it also wants to encourage parents to share information with schools if they're concerned about at-risk teenagers.

Professor Barton, who now leads the Australian Intervention Support Hub at Deakin University, thinks that's crucial.

GREG BARTON: This is not about a Big Brother surveillance state: this is about looking out for the well-being of young people.

So this conversation needs to happen in the same context as what we've come to understand as a responsibility of care when it comes to somebody perhaps getting into trouble with drug and alcohol abuse or juvenile gangs, or perhaps being subject to sexual abuse - or perhaps struggling with mental health issues.

I mean, all those areas we know that we can't turn a blind eye if somebody's in trouble. And this is another thing on the list that's not so common but it's unfortunately become increasingly common and it's just a question of saying, "We've got to watch out for each other."

BRIDGET BRENNAN: The New South Wales Teachers Federation president Maurie Mulheron is sceptical of the announcement.

He thinks schools should be given more funds to develop individual and specialised anti-radicalisation plans.

MAURIE MULHERON: Each school will have its own needs but there is already an Australian curriculum which is supported right across the board. But what we don't have are the resources, the additional resources that we'd need.

And that's what we're calling on the Government to do: fully implement the Gonski funding model. That gives the schools the resources and the flexibility to implement a range of programs that will support these students.

BRIDGET BRENNAN: In October, authorities were blindsided by a 15 year old boy, Farhad Jabar, who gunned down NSW Police employee Curtis Cheng outside Parramatta police headquarters.

The boy was then shot by police.

Professor Greg Barton says, in that case, there had been some concerning signs identified before Farhad Jabar was radicalised.

GREG BARTON: Well, the Farhad Jabar case was a tragic sort of wake-up call. There were people in hindsight who had observed Farhad in trouble.

We had one account from somebody at the Parramatta Mosque who tried to intervene and help with some success but unfortunately that came too late.

And it makes you realise that if we can spot these signs at the right time - if we see the early signs of radicalisation - we perhaps won't be able to save everyone, but many kids who otherwise have no-one to save them can be saved.

It really is the sort of thing where we can save lives and we can save families.

ELIZABETH JACKSON: Terrorism expert Professor Greg Barton from Deakin University, ending that report from AM's Bridget Brennan.