Rooting out Terrorism: The HUB set up to oversee deradicalisation programmes in Australia

I. Statement of Intent

The Australian Intervention Support Hub will act to counter radicalisation and violent extremism.  We will also work to support those front-line service providers who are developing counter narratives and alternative pathways, to avoid having young people act out issues using violence. A new national centre to counter radicalisation and violent extremism has been launched at The Australian National University (ANU). The Australian Intervention Support Hub (AISH), launched by Justice Minister and Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Counter-Terrorism the Hon Michael Keenan, will be led by the ANU Regulatory Institutions Network in co-operation with Deakin University.

clarke jonesProject leader and ANU deradicalisation expert Dr Clarke Jones said the hub will include a range of experts who can provide support to those government agencies or community groups running intervention programs which aim to halt or potentially reverse the radicalisation process. “We hope to develop evidence-based research that can assist with the development of intervention programs, which are aimed at addressing the reasons or risk factors behind radicalisation and someone’s support to violent extremist groups like the Islamic State,” Dr Jones said. “We will also work to support those front-line service providers who are developing counter narratives and alternative pathways, to avoid having young people act out issues using violence.”

Professor Greg Barton, Chair in Global Islamic Politics at the Alfred Deakin Institute for Citizenship and Globalisation at Deakin University, and co-director of AISH, said the Hub will be a source of expertise and information for government and communities.

“Hundreds of young Australians have been prevented from travelling to join the conflict in Syria and Iraq,” he said. “But whilst this sort of intervention saves lives, it is not a sufficient response in and of itself. Families and community groups need to be helped to work with those stopped from travelling or found to be at risk of recruitment.”

The Attorney-General’s Department and the Australian Federal Police will provide funding for the hub, which will work with experts from universities around Australia and the International Centre of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism in the United Arab Emirates.


Michael Keenan re HUB  Minister assisting the Prime Minister on Counter-Terrorism Michael Keenan. Picture: Ray Strange Source: News Corp Australia

 II. Mark Schliebs: “Research hub aims to dig out terrorism at grassroots level,” in The Australian, 10 August 2015

A high-level research centre that is designed to stop radicalisation at the grassroots level will be launched today, led by two leading universities and backed by the Abbott­ government. The government is providing $700,000 to establish the Australian Intervention Support Hub for academics from the Australian National University, Deakin University and other institutions to research radicalisation and develop­ responses and methods to be used by community workers and governments.

“The Hub”, as it will be known, will also independently evaluate ongoing counter-radicalisation pro­grams. The Australian Federal Police will provide $257,000 for the Hub and the two host univers­ities will help fund its work.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan, also the Minister assisting the Prime Minister on Counter-Terrorism, will announce the establishme­nt of the Hub in Canberra this morning, along with the funding commitments for its first year. “This facility is an Australian first — it will provide expertise to communities and governments combating violent extremism,” Mr Keenan will say at the launch. “This is vital because it provides us with the opportunity to recognise those who are going down the wrong path and to step in to turn them away from the ­ideologies of violence and hate.”

The Hub will be led by two of Australia’s most prominent counter-terrorism researchers, the ANU’s Clarke Jones and Greg Barton from Deakin University. They will be joined by researchers from other universities, such as the University of Melbourne and the University of NSW, and the Hub will work closely with the Abu Dhabi-based countering violent extremism centre, Hedayah.

Social scientists, criminologists and international relations experts will help research the various causes of radicalisation and will identify international best-practice programs to combat the problem. Community groups will also receive help from the Hub to improve their dealings with at-risk individuals.

“The Hub will play a crucial role in working with community organisations at the local level, bridging the gap between CVE research and program development and implementation,” Mr Keenan will say at the launch.

The Abbott government has allocat­ed $40 million to counter violent extremism and stop the radicalisation of susceptible people in Australia. That includes $13.4m for the Living Safe Together program to help community groups carry out intervention on the ground. Some community leaders and researchers have criticised the programs, claiming they have been piecemeal measures, and raised concerns that not enough was being done to prevent Australians from joining terrorist causes.

Mr Keenan will today say the establishment of the Hub will provide a proper evaluation of programs, in the hope they will be so effective radicalisation will be addressed as early as possible. “We want to identify and address issues at the grassroots level before a law-enforcement respons­e is required … and we want to know our approach to program delivery is supported by evidence.”

The Hub would support existing early intervention. “A crucial element … will be to identify … (international) projects­ and adapt successful approaches­ for Australian program­s,” he will say.

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This  step appears to be an outgrowth from an earlier submission …. See

III.   Henry Belot: “Team Australia is ‘counter-productive’, says terrorism expert,” 16 October 2014 …

A counter-terrorism expert at the Australian National University has described Tony Abbott’s “Team Australia” campaign as counter-productive and called on the government to prioritise community based programs to deradicalise supporters of Islamic State.  Dr Clarke Jones, a visiting fellow who worked on national security programs with the federal government for 15 years, said greater efforts must be made to understand why some Australians support IS and to develop new role models for those who do.  According to Attorney-General George Brandis, there are around 60 Australians directly involved in the current conflict in Syria and Iraq with dozens more supportive of their cause.

“IS may have been able to lure them to wanting to join but the factors that have got them to that point are often underlying social issues here in Australia that can be addressed,” Dr Jones said. “If you are talking to these people you’ve got to address some of the reasons why they feel disenfranchised in the first place.”

He said the term Team Australia had proved “counter-productive” as a decradicalistion tool as it was confusing and reinforced the sense of marginalisation felt by those likely to support IS.  “The government is going to have to more transparent in explaining to the public why they have been introducing new national security legislation,” he said.

Dr Jones, who is detailing his research at a public lecture in the ANU on Thursday, said authorities need to develop more sophisticated engagement programs with families and community groups to address grievances.

“The government has to knuckle down and dedicate funds to interventionist programs and be more willing to embrace and understand the motivations some may have for supporting IS, which are not always religious,” he said.

Dr Jones said the most immediate task of any community based program would be to develop new role models and social identities for those who feel marginalised. “Sporting programs and coming into contact with coaches and senior players who can become role models is important if they are still in a relationship stage,” he said. “New employment and educational opportunities can also give those at risk new role models and social groupings.”

Dr Jones said community based programs were less effective when individuals had been radicalised over a long period of time or from a young age, such as the child of Sydney based jihadi Khaled Sharrouf who reportedly posed with a decapitated head in August.

“In Australia, those who have become more hardened radicals need to be removed from social media influences and that’s a critical thing as it removes all contact to the social group who often led to their radicalisation in the first place,” he said.

Dr Jones said the 60 Australians fighting with IS in Iraq and Syria could play a critical role in deradicalisation programs in Australia provided they had become disillusioned while fighting overseas.

“Those who have joined terrorist groups like IS could be some of the greatest assets in preventing terrorism,” he said. “They might not like what they see when fighting overseas, and disengage from supporting organisations like IS. In carefully constructed programs, these returnees could prove useful if encouraged to dissuade others from supporting IS.”

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