New Terrorist Hotline

Australian Government to launch new Terrorist Hotline

Whilst the $1B promised to fix the Centrelink call centres didn’t materialise, author David Wroe from the Sydney Morning Herald has reported that $4 million dollars has been allocated in the 2016 Federal budget to set up a new Terrorist hotline to help parents who are concerned their children are succumbing to radicalisation.

I don’t pretend to understand all the complexities of this issue but it seems quite an extraordinary measure.

The article is below for you to make up your own opinion.

Terrorist Hotline to help parents divert children from radicalisation

Parents concerned their children are succumbing to religious radicalisation will be able to call a hotline for advice and counselling under a $4 million plan.

The hotline is expected to be outsourced to a non-government organisation in an effort to reduce the risk that parents may regard making such a call as “dobbing in” their children.

The move follows talks between the Commonwealth and states about concerns that families and friends may be reluctant to call the current national security hotline about loved ones and need another avenue to seek help.

A spokeswoman for Justice Minister Michael Keenan said the hotline was “being designed as an advice and support line, not a reporting line”.

She said the new call centre would be staffed by “trained professionals, such as counsellors” and it was “envisaged it will be run by a non-government provider”.

Justice Minister Michael Keenan's office said the hotline would operate similar to domestic violence helplines.
Justice Minister Michael Keenan’s office said the hotline would operate similar to domestic violence helplines.

“Part of the design of the service is implementing risk thresholds and triaging arrangements based on keeping people safe,” she said.

“As such, callers will be referred to appropriate services depending on the nature of the call.”

She said this was similar to callers to domestic violence helplines who, if fearing imminent danger, could be referred to authorities.

The national plan, funded in the budget, is based on a New South Wales hotline expected to be in operation this year.

A spokesman for the NSW government said the state program was aimed at diverting people from radicalisation, rather than reporting people to authorities.

“It’s a countering violent extremism measure rather than a national security hotline, but obviously there will need to be ways to elevate calls to security agencies,” he said.

“There are a number of issues to be worked through and a range of agencies will need to be included. One of the issues needing to be worked through is on the privacy aspects.”

New Call Centre Outsourcing opportunity in Australia

He said the NSW program would be outsourced to a non-government or community organisation.

Deakin University terrorism expert Greg Barton said the program would have a duty to refer any signs of a clear threat to authorities. But he stressed that police were heavily involved in early intervention and diversion programs now, and always preferred to head off problems before it came to arresting suspects and laying charges.

“You need to be transparent about the fact that if you do find something serious … it would be unrealistic and disingenuous to suggest that police would never be involved,” he said.

“No parent wants to be calling up and having their child arrested, but if that was the situation that it ultimately led to … it might otherwise result in the child losing his or her life or taking other people’s.”

Professor Barton said community education was needed to help people understand that just because police were involved it didn’t mean arrests and charges would follow.

“Police would very much wish not to put a young person in jail … They’ve been active in the intervention space for a long time,” he said.

Update:

It’s a little unclear if the Terrorist Hotline did formally launch on its own right, however, the services referred to in this article are now handled by the National Security Hotline.

LOOKING TO REPORT SOMETHING?

The nature of terrorism is changing, with callers providing information on the use of websites or social media platforms promoting violent extremist ideology, suspicious travel planning, and reports from people concerned that someone they know is becoming radicalised towards violent extremism.

Even if you think it’s probably nothing, the smallest piece of information can be valuable.

If something doesn’t add up, speak up by calling the National Security Hotline on 1800 123 400.

If you are travelling overseas you can call the NSH on (+61) 1300 123 401.

Recommended further reading: Facts about the ‘Hello, can you hear me?’ scam that has hit Australia

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