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