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Challenging Extremist Ideologies

Question:

Discuss about the Countering Violent Extremism Policy.

The first and foremost responsibility of any government is to protect its citizens from outer threat as well as sheltering them against any other threat that may occur within the national borders of the country (Sentas, 2014). The case is not any different for Australia. The Australian government strives to protect the citizens, the country itself and functions with the best interests of the country at heart. This responsibility makes it obligatory, both legally and morally, for the Australian government to take measures that pose a threat for the national security of the country, acts of terrorism being the most pressing issue among them.

The counter terrorism strategy of Australia is a document by the Council of Australian Governments, that outlines and describes the terrorist threats that the country is facing currently and the measures that are being taken by the government to prevent those from occurring (Cronin, 2015). The strategies are based on five key aspects: challenging the ideologies that propagate violent extremism, trying to prevent he citizens as well as every other human from becoming a terrorist, trying to create a global environment that would help to reduce the extremist mentality in general, creating obstacles for terrorist activities within the national borders of the country, and, being swift to react with effective responses if an act of terrorism does occur despite the measures to counter them (Heath?Kelly, 2013).

Countering violent extremism involves a number of activities which are aimed at addressing the key elements of extremism and try to help individuals in disengaging or refraining from taking up those activities. The term ‘counter” is used in a broader sense which holds many other activities under its umbrella term, which range from preventive measures to getting those who have been radicalized to come back to a normal life. The followers of extremism believe in taking violent and destructive measures against masses of population to establish their own bigotry, and achieve religious or political goals. During the 44th Parliament, Australia joined many other countries in expressing their concern about the growing threat of domestic and international threats and the measures to counter them tactfully. Threats include overseas insurgent groups, as well as “homegrown” terrorism, which refer to the threat that comes from the nationals of Australia helping the cause of the insurgents or aiding them in any way (Harris-Hogan, Barrelle & Zammit, 2016). Threats from both terrorist groups and individuals acting themselves have become point of concern for the Australian government. In 2014, the National Security Committee (NSC) decided that the country’s counter terrorism measures need to be reviewed and the Department of the Prime Minister and the Cabinet would lead this review in a combined way. This review would make sure that the counter terrorism strategies are well organized, properly focused upon the concerned area and effective in nature.

Promoting Community Cohesion

The country opposes violent extremism in all of its manifestation. Whatever may be the ideologies or the political goals that fuel the violent steps are condemned in every aspect (Dunn et al., 2016). The counter terrorism measures are focused on the major threats that are being faced by the country along with the rest of the world, that are instigated by groups like al-Qa’ida, the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and many other such organizations (Harris-Hogan, Barrelle & Zammit, 2016). The problem that has sprouted in recent times is the advocacy of these groups’ ideals in a larger way and some nationals taking a liking towards them everywhere in the planet.

In a general way, the counter terrorism strategies of the Australian government undertake some activities. These are: to cause disruption in any activity that involves individuals or a group planning an attack; detecting terrorist activities and promoting community cohesion in order to establish resilience at a very core level of the mindset of the people in a collective manner.

The Australian government has extra features and agreed to provide extra funding to counter violent extremism. Each year, this budget is being gradually increased, parallel to the growing threat of the threats from extreme forms of violence. The CVE threats have been recognized by the National Security as the most pressing issue and focuses more resources in preventing these to occur.

The counter terrorism strategies are all focused preventing the terrorist attacks from even happening and widespread and minute analysis are used to predict any act of such violence. Violent extremism both within the country and abroad are tried to be thwarted in every way possible. A special care is given to make sure that the Australian nationals do not succumb to the lure of these extreme ideologies which make them use violence to get themselves heard or simply to express their views. However, despite all of these measures and strategies, there are no guarantee that the terrorist attacks will not happen (Gibbs, 2015). The Australian government and the National Security Committee both take some very basic and simple ways to try to avert these attacks as a community, along with its citizens. In every step, the ideologies of these extremist groups must be challenged, to cause hindrance for them to manifest within the minds of the nationals. The global environment has to be shaped in a way that would ensure more and more people joining in the fight against these terrorist organizations.

Reducing Exposure to Extremist Propaganda Online

Violent ideologies that are promoted by different extremist groups are the key reasons behind almost every terrorist activity across the globe. A COAG agreement has been agreed upon to endorse the new strategies for CVE. The Attorney-General’s Department coordinates all the tasks and the methods to counter the terrorism activities that involve violence. These new strategies have been implemented only recently, in 2010. In 2014, a new CVE programme was initiated to provide aid to the individuals who were identified at the risk of being radicalized. Intervention processes were introduced to supplement the initiatives of the National Disruption Group (Cherney & Murphy, 2017). Formal CVED efforts are given that help to degrade any form of ideological support for the terrorist activities from the Australian nationals. These efforts involve spreading education, skill developments, training, leadership and mentoring, developing counter narratives that challenge the extremist ideals.

Promoting community cohesion which act as a support for resilience against the violent forms of extremism is a very important strategy of the government of the Commonwealth (Cherney et al., 2017). Agencies have put in vital strategies that help in this aspect by, increasing the legal consequences of Australian nationals who travel abroad to fight in overseas conflicts, making the people understand the impact these actions may have on them at a personal level or how may their families suffer, providing humanitarian support for those who are ravaged by conflicts, both within the country and in any terrorist activity overseas. Social and economic disadvantages are also highlighted by the government to make the individuals understand the consequence they may face if they take part in spreading terrorist propaganda in any way (Murphy et al., 2017). Local and regional governments are included extensively in the process and the activities to improve community cohesion and building a resilience together against the malice of extreme forms of terrorism that preach violence to achieve its goals.

The online world is easily accessible by almost everyone and the ways to monitor and control them are still not foolproof. The terrorists this very advantage to spread their propaganda, recruit new members for their groups, plan and execute the attacks. These propagandas are becoming increasingly sophisticated, urging individuals to reject their own societies and join the cause to establish a caliphate across all the countries in the world. Reducing or at least controlling the access to extremist propaganda online can help to reduce exposure of the Australian nationals to these vicious ideologies.

Understanding the Drivers of Violent Extremism

Despite the measures that are being taken to counter the acts of violent extremism, in order for these strategies to be successful, it must be first understood why have violent extremism managed to establish itself as an idea in the first place (Waldman & Verga, 2016). A range of social, political, individual, group and environmental factors form a confluence that induce people to resort to violence or be lured by someone who spreads extremist propaganda. These drivers are broadly categorized under macro level drivers and meso level drivers. Macro level drivers are often dubbed as push factors and comprise of socio-economic or political conditions that are prevalent in the backdrop of a violent mindset or ideal to spread across a region or a group of people. Ravaging civil wars, lower personal freedom, virtually non-existent human rights, astoundingly poor economic conditions all propel humans to take up violence as the only measure to make themselves and their struggles heard by the other countries (Cronin, 2015). Meso level drivers are the pull factors that identify behaviors and ideals at an individual level that pull people already consumed by the macro level drivers to believe in extremism that use violence and spread terror. Apart from these two primary drivers, there are some micro level drivers as well that helps the terrorist groups to gain more strength every day. The psychological bend of the human mind is very volatile and prone to being lured.

The Attorney-General’s Department coordinates all the activities that is undertaken to prevent terrorism acts within and abroad the Commonwealth. Its approach to hinder the terrorist acts involve four sets of activities that are complementary in nature.

Building strength at a very root level through inclusion and social participation is the best way to counter violent extremism, which seeks to prevent radicalization. This addresses the social drivers to make individuals disengage from the terrorist propaganda. Multicultural activities are funded and promoted to make everyone feel included and a greater strength within the community is established. Enhancing economic participation, migrant integration and other strategies are implemented so that no particular group or individual feels left out and considers violence the only way to spread the views he or she may have (Waldman & Verga, 2016).

Ensuring that intervention programmes are delivered as soon as possible for individuals who are at risk of being radicalized can help to decrease the chances of homeland terrorism attacks by national of the Commonwealth.

The Role of the Attorney-General’s Department

Taking support from international agencies or groups and governments to share information and collaborative engagements is a great way to increase the global fight against extreme violent terrorism. Spreading education to make people understand the true face and intensions of these extremist groups can also prove to be beneficial (Cherney & Murphy, 2017). The Australian government tries to connect people with scholars from different religions who try to explain the core beliefs of the religion and make them understand that they, by no means preach violence, however may they be projected to the world by the extremists.

The Australian government has been issuing tenders that would facilitate in the disengagement of individuals from extreme violent terrorism. These tenders have brought to help in research and evaluation, developing the training process that advocates against extreme violence.

Conclusion

The current CVE efforts of the Commonwealth seem to have impact on the process of reducing acts of terrorism, but more yet remains to be done. The Australian government plans to launch even more initiatives so that the terrorist propagandas are rejected at the very basic of all human organizations: the society. The current measures fail to address, and even identify, all the individuals who are affected by the false teachings of the extremist followers of different religions. However, it must be remembered that, not any CVE initiative, no matter how sophisticated or precisely planned, can guarantee that the terrorist attacks will not happen. Even then, it is extremely assuring and heartening to see that the Commonwealth government is taking drastic steps in making sure that the citizens are safe from any form harm, which come from terrorist groups abroad, or manifested within any individual inside the national borders of the country as a legal citizen.

References

Cherney, A., & Murphy, K. (2017). Police and Community Cooperation in Counterterrorism: Evidence and Insights from Australia. Studies in Conflict & Terrorism, 1-15.

Cherney, A., Sweid, R., Grossman, M., Derbas, A., Dunn, K., Jones, C., ... & Barton, G. (2017). Local service provision to counter violent extremism: perspectives, capabilities and challenges arising from an Australian service mapping project. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, 1-20.

Cronin, A. K. (2015). ISIS is not a terrorist group: Why counterterrorism won't stop the latest jihadist threat. Foreign Aff., 94, 87.

Dunn, K. M., Atie, R., Kennedy, M., Ali, J. A., O’Reilly, J., & Rogerson, L. (2016). Can you use community policing for counter terrorism? Evidence from NSW, Australia. Police Practice and Research, 17(3), 196-211.

 Gibbs, J. C. (2015). State Legitimacy and Terrorism: Implications for Counterterrorism Policy. In Terrorism and Counterterrorism Today (pp. 241-259). Emerald Group Publishing Limited.

Harris-Hogan, S., Barrelle, K., & Zammit, A. (2016). What is countering violent extremism? Exploring CVE policy and practice in Australia. Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, 8(1), 6-24.

Heath?Kelly, C. (2013). Counter?Terrorism and the Counterfactual: Producing the ‘Radicalisation’Discourse and the UK PREVENT Strategy. The British Journal of Politics & International Relations, 15(3), 394-415.

Murphy, K., Murphy, K., Madon, N. S., Madon, N. S., Cherney, A., & Cherney, A. (2017). Promoting Muslims’ cooperation with police in counter-terrorism: The interaction between procedural justice, police legitimacy and law legitimacy. Policing: An International Journal, 40(3), 544-559.

Sentas, V. (2014). Traces of terror: Counter-terrorism law, policing, and race. Oxford University Press.

Waldman, S., & Verga, S. (2016). Countering violent extremism on social media.

Directory.gov.au. (2017). National Security Committee | Government Online Directory. [online] Available at: https://www.directory.gov.au/commonwealth-parliament/cabinet/cabinet-committees/national-security-committee [Accessed 13 Oct. 2017].

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