The Islamic Council of Victoria says its proposal for “safe spaces” for Muslim youth at risk of radicalisation should not be misconstrued as an avenue for them to express extreme or violent views.
“These safe spaces are not …. ‘rage rooms’ or ‘hate rooms’ or ‘hate spaces’,” Adel Salman, ICV Vice President told reporters in Melbourne.
“That is completely, completely wrong.”
Victoria will review the council's state government funding after its proposal for spaces where youths could express inflammatory views.
Premier Daniel Andrews said he was "very troubled" by the suggestion.
"There is no safe way to rail against the West. There is no safe way to rail against the values that we hold dear," Mr Andrews told reporters.
"I am very troubled by the suggestion that we might have a space where people could be radical as part of a deradicalisation program. That makes no sense to me whatsoever."
Mr Salman said the idea behind the proposal was for youth to express their views in an environment where it could be challenged and counter arguments presented by experts in the field.
“And even where they hear of some speech that is perhaps a little bit extreme a little bit radical … we would expect there would be absolute experts managing that process for us,” he said.
“This is not controversial; this is an approach that’s taken across the spectrum of different youth engagement programs.
“This is a recognised practise globally.”
However, the premier said that no such program would receive Victorian government funding.
"We will be having a very close look at the Islamic Council of Victoria's funding in a broader sense," Mr Andrews said.
The ICV's June 1 submission to a parliamentary inquiry on religious freedom also called for federal counter-terrorism and deradicalisation funding to be used for the program.
"Existing Commonwealth CVE and CT funding re-allocated to create safe spaces urgently needed by Muslim youth to meet and talk about a range of issues in emotional terms," the ICV submission says.
"(A space) where they can be frank and even use words, which in a public space would sound inflammatory".
The submission says young people are unable to express anger or use certain facial expressions without becoming a target for surveillance.
'Never heard so much rot in my life': Hanson on ICV's proposal
Queensland's One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson has called the Victorian proposal a "load of rubbish".
"How much more money have we got to put into this? To make them feel good about themselves? I think it is absolute rubbish," she told Seven's Sunrise program.
Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Bill Shorten called for Australians to unite.
"We need in this country to stick together," he said.
"We need to take the advice of our security agencies, we need to back our experts.
"Now is not the time to divide our communities."