Baird's counter-radicalisation measures 'won't work', expert says


A University of Sydney academic says new measures aimed at targeting extremism among young people could be 'counterproductive'.

The New South Wales government has announced nearly $50 million will be allocated to schools in the state in a bid to prevent students from being radicalised.

The move is part of a series of measures announced by the state government to counter violent extremism following the shooting death of a police worker last month.

The announcement of the measures was prompted by the shooting death of police accountant Curtis Cheng by a teenager in Parramatta last month, NSW Premier Mike Baird said. 

But University of Sydney South Asia Study Group co-ordinator Hussain Nadim said the move was counterproductive.

"The entire idea and the entire issue of radicalisation, its roots are embedded in this very notion that kids, especially Muslim kids, feel isolated and aren't able to integrate and having these programs run at the school level will not help countering that; it will only allow further isolation and further radicalisation of kids at the high school level," he said. 

Mr Nadim said he was surprised to read that only $7 million of the funding will go directly to training school staff in identifying so-called "at risk" students. 

"It is almost impossible to identify at-risk students," he said.

"How is the government or teachers going to identify who is at risk and who is not at risk at the age of 13, 14, 15 and 16?

"Secondly, these programs have already been tried, tested and disengaged in the other countries like the US. For example, a recent event in the US when a Muslim kid brought a clock to school and it was seen as a bomb, and it had a widespread rejection from the community all over the US, even President [Barack] Obama came out against this idea.

"So I think this will not work. And $47 million for something like this? I really want to see where this money is going and how it is being spent. And is it really necessary to do this in this specific way?"

Mr Baird said schools had an important role to play in countering extremism, and the measures would include training counsellors to identify vulnerable young people in schools.

"We've seen the tragic consequences," he said.

"We saw a young boy that was manipulated to such a point that the tragic act that followed is beyond words for us all. So we need to work across the community, across all schools, across the whole community and implement a range of of programs to ensure that we're doing everything we can. From our point of view the best way to do this is to do it together."

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull welcomed the measures and said the radicalisation of young people was occurring at an "alarming rate".

"There's been very close collaboration, as you know, between the state and federal governments," he said.

"This is, what Mike is doing, is very important and he certainly has our full support and we endorse the programs that he's rolling out."

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