Countering violent extremism

mike baird s

More counselling and support services will be provided to students in NSW schools and staff will have access to additional training to assist our schools in countering violent extremism (CVE), NSW Premier Mike Baird announced today.

Training will be available for counsellors and other school staff for the start of the 2016 school year to ensure they have the skills to identify vulnerable young people, and help them access support programs.

Additionally, up to five Specialist School Support Teams will work proactively with identified schools and respond to critical incidents, linking in with the efforts of community leaders and ensuring schools have the support they need.

The expert teams, which will cost around $15 million, are part of a $47 million suite of measures developed by the NSW Government in response to the rise of violent extremism ”“ measures that have been accelerated after the terrorist attack in Parramatta that cost the life of NSW Police Force worker Curtis Cheng.

“We are locked in a global struggle with cynical manipulators who exploit vulnerable young people and children to commit acts of terror,” Mr Baird said.

“Violent extremism is a willingness to use or support unlawful violence to promote a political, ideological or religious goal.

“As we have seen, recently and tragically in our own community, it includes the willingness to use or support terrorism.

“I have always said, we are much stronger united than divided, and the measures announced today are designed to assist with precisely that.”

Along with measures to support schools, the package includes a range of programs designed to build community cohesion and maintain cultural harmony.

In addition to a $4 million program already announced and commencing this year, there will be a further $8 million directed at community resilience programs to be delivered by a range of organisations committed to youth engagement and community resilience.

Additionally, a Community Cohesion Ambassadors’ program will involve high-profile community leaders working within the community to promote social cohesion and cultural harmony.

A CVE training program for front-line NSW Government workers, such as Family and Community Services officers, will be established to ensure they too can respond to the needs of vulnerable individuals and families.

The NSW Government will also establish a support and advice telephone line, along with online services, for community and family members seeking advice on how to best protect and support young people who may be exposed to violent extremist influences. The line will be managed through the NGO sector.

To further support the Government as it deals with the changing face of violent extremism, a Premier’s CVE Expert Council will be established to provide advice on NSW approaches. The Council will include experts from the private, academic and NGO sectors.

Mr Baird said, “Today is an important step in our response to violent extremism, and there will be more to come. And we will develop our approaches in close partnership with the Federal Government which has a crucial role in tackling this issue.”

“CVE programs are not a substitute for strong law enforcement measures ”“ they are a necessary complement.”

A full list of measures announced is given here:

To support our schools, we will:

  • Provide additional training and support for the expanded school counsellor workforce the Government is providing NSW public schools, to ensure that they have the skills necessary to identify and help vulnerable young people access support programs, and we will expedite the additional support staff for schools, ensuring this is in place by the start of Term 1 2016. (6.2M to bring forward 6 months)
  • Establish up to five Specialist School Support Teams to be deployed to identified schools and work with them to develop strategies based on their specific needs. They will respond to challenges relating to violent extremism in those schools, and respond to crisis events if they occur. The teams will include psychologists and student support workers, and will link in with the efforts of community leaders, to ensure schools have any ongoing support they require. (15.2M)
  • Develop additional resources for teachers and parents to ensure they have the information they need to enable them to identify and manage violent extremist behaviour by students, including in prayer groups.
  • Enhance the case management framework for supporting school children at risk of engaging in violent extremism. This will provide a tailored support program for young people who are identified being at risk of violent extremism or already engaged in extremism, and their families.
  • Expand the incident reporting system to ensure all NSW schools are reporting incidents of violent extremist behaviour through the current, dedicated 24/7 hotline maintained by the Department of Education, so the NSW Police Force is informed of incidents of concern immediately.

To build community resilience and cohesion, we will:

  • Develop a comprehensive package of community cohesion programs as an early and important preventative strategy. These programs will be delivered by community organisations committed to promoting youth engagement in an effort to strengthen community resilience to protect young people from violent extremist influences. This includes the Multicultural NSW COMPACT – a $4 million community partnership program that has been co-designed in consultation with the community and academic experts, and a fund for future CVE initiatives of $8 million to ensure our program adapts to best practice in this new field.
  • Establish a Community Cohesion Ambassadors’ Program for community leaders to work with students in schools and the community to provide advice on the risks of violent extremism and the importance of community cohesion. This will help ensure strong mentors are available for young people to develop positive, protective social networks.
  • Establish a Premier’s fund for social cohesion initiatives, which will administer a small grants program for schools and local community organisations to hold events and activities that bring young people from different cultural backgrounds together to discuss and celebrate diversity and its importance to countering violent extremism.

To support our community, we will:

  • Establish a support and advice telephone line and online services for community and family members to seek advice on CVE information, programs and support services. This service will be available to all members of the community, including young people, and will be managed through the non-government sector, with potentially multiple organisations contracted to establish advice services to ensure the right expertise is available.
  • Establish a CVE training program for front-line NSW Government workers, such as teachers and Family and Community Services officers, and establish broader capacity building programs for community organisations to ensure they are well placed to respond to the needs of vulnerable individuals and families.
  • Undertake a comprehensive mapping exercise of relevant services and referral points, to ensure there is an understanding of all potential support services available, which will help direct individuals and families to the organisations best placed to assist them.

To ensure our efforts are coordinated and based on best practice, we will:

  • Establish a Premier’s CVE Expert Council of experts to provide advice on NSW approaches, including experts from the private, academic and non-government sectors.
  • Establish a Committee of School Education Leaders to provide advice to both the CVE Council and the Minister on schools policies.
  • Appoint a new Director for CVE Programs in the Department of Premier and Cabinet whose job it will be to ensure coherence in implementation of this important program of work.

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