Countering Violent Extremism and the Radicalisation of Youth -  A Canada-Australia Symposium

Canadian and Australian participants from the first day of the Canada-Australia Symposium on the Radicalisation of Youth

The High Commissioner for Canada to Australia, His Excellency Mr Paul Maddison, opens the Canada-Australia Symposium on the Radicalisation of Youth at a formal dinner at Customs House in Brisbane, Queensland.

Griffith University Professor Mohamad Abdalla (far left) moderates a panel session titled “A view from the community” at the Canada-Australia Symposium on the Radicalisation of Youth.

Canada-Australia Symposium on the Radicalisation of Youth Key Note Speaker Mr Phil Gurski, President and CEO of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting.

Heads of mission from Belgium, Canada, Pakistan and the UK form a diplomatic panel moderated by Mr Richard C. Smith AO PSM (far left) at the Canada-Australia Symposium on the Radicalisation of Youth.

The High Commission of Canada, in partnership with the Griffith Criminology Institute, and supported by the Queensland Police Service, organized a Canada-Australia Symposium on the Countering Extremism and Radicalisation of Youth at Griffith University in Brisbane, Queensland. Drawing on the first-hand experience of many of the participants, especially leaders in Australia’s Muslim communities, the focus of the symposium was on identifying practical “whole-of-community” solutions aimed at preventing the radicalisation of youth to violence, and instead enabling a broader social cohesion. The event was well-attended and brought together Canadian and Australian experts, including RCMP and Australian Federal Police, with a broad group of Australian practitioners, state and federal government and police officials, researchers and community leaders, including youth.

High Commissioner Paul Maddison set the stage in his opening remarks encouraging open-dialogue from all; he stated “by investigating this issue from the points of view of both our countries, we can draw on a larger pool of knowledge and practical experience in this area.” A sentiment later expressed by Keynote speaker Mr. Phil Gurski, former strategic analysts in the Canadian Intelligence community and current CEO and President of Borealis Threat and Risk Consulting. Mr. Gurski presented on Al Qaeda-inspired violent extremism and radicalisation across Canada and around the world. Participants from both countries expressed a strong commitment to finding effective ways of countering youth radicalisation, and there was agreement on the importance of early intervention and prevention. Canada’s efforts and success in multiculturalism policy and practice were commended by Australian participants and Montreal’s de-radicalisation program drew much praise.

Need for Community Involvement

Australian Senator the Hon Concetta Fierravanti-Wells expressed the need for community involvement; “Recent terrorist events have confirmed the need for us all to work closely together, to better understand what drives people to commit senseless acts of violence and what strategies work when it comes to safeguarding our communities.” The event featured a remarkable degree of frank and open discussion, with Australian participants sharing local experiences and enquiring about parallel Canadian experiences and programs.