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Prevention key to combating home-grown terrorism

Published: 23 February 2015

The Australian Association of Social Workers (AASW) is deeply concerned new security measures announced today by Prime Minister Tony Abbott will jeopardize the social fabric that holds our society together.

AASW National President Karen Healy says tighter immigration laws and changes to welfare may have the reverse effect of combating “homegrown terrorism.”

“Potential terrorists often turn to violence because they feel alienated from Australian society. If we truly want to combat terrorism, we must look at prevention rather than simply relying on security measures,” says Professor Healy.

“Rather than ‘crackdown’ on welfare recipients or suspend privileges, we should be increasing the amount we spend on settlement services for migrants during their first five years in Australia.

“Migrants come to Australia with high hopes but the first few years are often difficult in a new country. Support during this crucial time not only fosters wealth and wellbeing in the future, but also alleviates the alienation and vulnerability that can lead to terrorism.”

Professor Healy says terrorism often grows in deeply inequitable societies.

“Australia has a strong history of reducing inequality though in recent years this tradition has been diminished by the tax system becoming ‘unfair’ and hence endangering the whole system.

“The Prime Minister using the Sydney siege in particular to justify tighter immigration and citizenship laws is unwarranted. While we recognise the need to keep our country safe, there is no connection between what happened in Martin Place and national security.

“If we apply Mr Abbott’s ‘no more benefit of the doubt’ rule for everyone because of one incident, this could be extremely detrimental to our society.”

The AASW represents approximately 8,000 social workers across the country.

AASW - Australian Association of Social Workers