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Australia: Multi-million-dollar “deradicalization” helpline gets “around five calls in two months”

8

If these “deradicalization” programs won’t deal with the motive, the inspiration for this holy war – namely Islam, how could they possibly be successful? I mean, really.

The only way to de-radicalize a Muslim is to convert him to something else.

“Deradicalisation helpline Step Together receives ‘around five calls in two months,'” by James Thomas, ABC.net.au, September 27, 2017:

A multi-million-dollar government helpline set up to support people worried their family or friends may be at risk of violent extremism appears to be failing to gain traction.

The Step Together helpline was launched in June by the New South Wales Minister for Counter Terrorism, David Elliot.

Costing $3.9 million over three years, the initiative is part of a $47 million program designed to fight radicalisation following the murder of NSW police accountant Curtis Cheng.

The helpline markets itself as an advice and counselling service, and is staffed by professional counsellors seven days a week from 7:00am to 9:00pm.

But Mr Elliot has confirmed the helpline had only received “around five phone calls” in the two months since its launch.

One source, who spoke to the ABC on condition of anonymity, said: “It costs millions, but only a few people have called it. One call was a wrong number, the other was a parent worried their kid was dating a Muslim.”

Prominent Muslim community leaders have also told the ABC they warned the NSW Government the helpline was unlikely to be trusted if it was linked to intelligence gathering or policing agencies.

Despite this, Mr Elliott said the Government expected the low volume of calls to increase, “as the marketing efforts gradually expand”.

He added that the associated website had received 800 hits.

Mr Elliot refused to say when the expanded marketing would take place or whether it would cost more money.

The Minister insisted the helpline had the support of the community.

“Early response from a number of community organisations about Step Together have been positive and many have appreciated being engaged about the initiative,” he said.
What did our readers think about the Step Together helpline failing to gain traction, and how did they think the government initiative could garner more trust?

Helpline viewed with suspicion in Muslim community

But prominent members of Sydney’s Muslim community, and terrorism experts have told the ABC a different story.

“In theory it ticks the boxes. In reality, and in the streets of south-west Sydney, nobody is going to use this helpline because, they don’t trust it,” Dr Jamal Rifi said from his medical practice in the Sydney suburb of Belmore.

“We have always said that such an initiative needs to be arm’s length from security agencies [and] from police.”

The helpline is run by an independent contractor but Dr Rifi said launching it under the Ministry for Counter Terrorism meant the service was doomed.

“I doubt it very much — people [using] this hotline … it is going to be seen as embedded to the anti-terror sphere rather than the health, preventative-action sphere,” he said.

An expert in de-radicalisation at the Australian National University, Dr Clarke Jones, said authorities were focusing on the wrong things.

“Everything to do with Muslim communities is to do with security and intelligence,” he said. “Life doesn’t work like that.

“You’ll find there’s much more problems around domestic violence and youth suicide, drug and alcohol offending. Violent extremism may be less than 1 per cent.

Dr Jones wants governments to tackle the symptoms that lead to radicalisation.

“If you put money towards social services or building community capacity, the outcome would be better. In fact, you’d reduce the chances of violent extremism,” he said….

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