Laws resulting from a new bill in Victoria will mean further protection for the state from violent extremism, said its Attorney-General.
In a world-leading scheme designed to tackle the early warning signs of radicalisation and violent and extremist behaviour, the new bill is being set up to help people most at-risk to turn their lives around – keeping them and the community safe.
The Terrorism (Community Protection) Amendment Bill 2021 will mean new laws are introduced that tackle the root causes of violent extremism, providing pathways to support vulnerable people to move away from radicalisation.
This follows the news that Victoria is set to become to first Australian state or territory to ban the public display of Nazi symbols, with legislation due to be presented early next year.
The landmark reform will help stamp out hateful behaviour and boost human rights protections according to the Andrews government, who will present the legislation to parliament in the first half of 2022. The government will also extend the state’s anti-vilification protections to stretch beyond race and religion to cover areas including sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability, and HIV/AIDS status.
Tabled in parliament on Tuesday, the Terrorism (Community Protection) Amendment Bill 2021 will establish a voluntary case management scheme for people who are at risk or radicalising towards violent extremism – connecting them with the services they need and providing them with pathways to reconnect with community support.
The scheme is backed by research that suggests addressing the needs of an individual before addressing their extremist views or ideologies can more effectively prevent escalation to terrorist activity.
For individuals who cannot be engaged voluntarily and require intervention, the bill also sets out a Support and Engagement Order (SEO) scheme. This allows the courts to impose conditions on a person identified to be radicalising towards violent extremism where they must comply with a tailored support and engagement plan.
Attorney-General Jaclyn Symes said that the schemes, which will be supported by a panel of key departments including education and training, justice and community safety, health, and families, fairness and housing, and agencies such as Victoria Police, tackle the “root causes” of extremist behaviour.
“When it comes to violent extremism, early intervention is key – that’s why we’re introducing reforms that tackle the root causes of radicalisation and help those at-risk people get their lives back on track,” she said.
The bill will also extend the operation of the Terrorism (Community Protection) Act 2003 for a further ten years, keeping in place vital counter-terrorism preventative and investigative powers that are currently due to expire on 1 December 2021.
Minister for Police Lisa Neville added: “The threat of terrorism requires ongoing caution. We’re making sure that we continue to have strong, effective and balanced measures in place to keep the community safe.”