SHAFAQNA – Muslim communities have not yet received any funds from the Abbott government to combat the lure of Islamic State recruiters, and neither the government nor community leaders can say how that money will be spent. The failure has led to frustration with the Prime Minister Tony Abbott and his ministers who say the Muslim community were not doing enough to combat radicalisation of young people. On Monday night, Trade Minister Andrew Robb said the leadership of the Muslim community, “the imams in particular … should be doing a lot more to look after their community”. “You’ve got the problem. It’s principally your problem. You’ve got to show the leadership and we’ve got to do whatever we can to help you in that regard,” Mr Robb said. But Islamic Council of Victoria spokesman Kuranda Seyit said Mr Robb’s comments showed he was “out of touch”. ”The issue of violent extremism and radicalisation is very complex and doesn’t fall directly in the realm of imams, sheiks, or other leaders. It’s more about young people who are quite disconnected from the mosque … these young people are not actually attending the mosque and they are finding different ways to get information.”
Of the $630 million the Abbott government earmarked in its last budget to boost the fight against terror, only a small proportion, $13.4 million, will go to assessing and treating high risk individuals in the community.
Of that, only $1 million has been allocated Australia-wide to Muslim communities to fund their own programs.
None of that money has yet been allocated. A first assistant secretary from the Attorney-General’s department is coming to Melbourne later this month to hold a consultation session with the Muslim community to “discuss the development of a new national counter-terrorism strategy”.
That strategy, called “Living Safe Together,” involved communities applying for funds in March. A spokesman for the Attorney General’s department said on Wednesday of those programs that “successful applicants will be notified soon”.
A Rudd-Gillard government program focused on sport, mentoring and interventions with at-risk people was scrapped in the first Abbott budget. The department said the government’s commitment to countering violent extremism was “much greater than it ever was”.
The Age understands the Attorney-General’s department has tried to parcel some of the new funding out to community groups in packages of $50,000 or less, but grants have not yet been confirmed.
“It’s a con job,” said one senior Muslim community leader, who did not want to be named.
“Everyone is saying; you want to roll out a program for $50,000? People are confused: what is the expectation of me?”
The Islamic Council of Victoria’s Mr Seyit said he expected a decision “very soon” about which projects would be funded from the $1 million, but that there would only be enough for less than 30 grants Australia-wide.
“I have mixed feelings: initially I thought the amount available was very low, but I know that [there have been] a lot of funding cuts over the last 12 to 18 months, and now at least they’re trying to do something,” Mr Seyit said.
He said Australia was “a bit behind” in dealing with violent extremism, because “not a lot of people … are used to dealing with it”.
Another Muslim leader said the community was trying to give moral support and counselling to families whose sons have been arrested for allegedly planning a terror attack on Anzac Day. He said the high-profile, early morning arrests in Operation Rising, had been too showy and aggressive.
“Years of investment in social cohesion gets challenged because of incidents like this,” he said.
A spokesman for Victorian multicultural affairs minister Robin Scott said: “Respect for and cooperation with community groups is absolutely vital in dealing with these serious threats.”
Source : http://www.theage.com.au/