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deradicalisation helpline took five calls in two months

A multi-million dollar deradicalisation helpline has taken only five phone calls in its first two months of operation.

Muslim community leaders say the service, launched in June by the New South Wales Minister for Counter Terrorism David Elliot, is viewed with suspicion.

They say the helpline’s association with the terror-related ministry means it will be not be trusted and is doomed to fail.

The initiative – set up in the wake of the fatal shooting of police employee Curtis Cheng – will cost taxpayers $3.9million over a three year period.

A multi-million dollar deradicalisation helpline has taken only five phone calls in two months (pictured is Australian ISIS recruit Neil Prakash)

The initiative - set up in the wake of the fatal shooting of police employee Curtis Cheng - will cost taxpayers $3.9million over a three year period (pictured is notorious Australian ISIS terrorist Mohammed Elomar)

The initiative – set up in the wake of the fatal shooting of police employee Curtis Cheng – will cost taxpayers $3.9million over a three year period (pictured is notorious Australian ISIS terrorist Mohammed Elomar)

A source revealed the helpline has only taken a handful of calls, including a wrong number and a parent concerned their child was dating a Muslim, ABC News reported.

Mr Elliot said the service has received ‘around five phone calls’ but is expecting more calls as marketing efforts are stepped up.

Dr Jamal Rifi, a prominent Muslim community leader, said the helpline’s association with security agencies and police means it will not be used.

‘In theory it ticks the boxes. In reality, and in the streets of south-west Sydney, nobody is going to use this helpline because, they don’t trust it,’ he said.

A source revealed the helpline has only taken a handful of calls, including a wrong number and a parent concerned their child was dating a Muslim (pictured is Australian ISIS fighter Khaled Sharrouf, right)

A source revealed the helpline has only taken a handful of calls, including a wrong number and a parent concerned their child was dating a Muslim (pictured is Australian ISIS fighter Khaled Sharrouf, right)

Australian National University terror expert Dr Clarke Jones told Daily Mail Australia in June the program was a step in the right direction, but needed community engagement.

‘There is a lot of distrust. The service could be quickly shot of the sky if there is suspicion in the Muslim communities,’ he said at the time. 

‘They will need to try something different, more of a grass-roots approach. We have yet to see a deradicalisation program that reaches where it needs to go.’

Counter-terrorism expert and director of Intelligent Risks Neil Fergus said Step Together risked being viewed as an intelligence agency front.

Muslim community leaders say the helpline's (pictured) association with the terror-related ministry means it will be not be trusted and is doomed to fail

Muslim community leaders say the helpline’s (pictured) association with the terror-related ministry means it will be not be trusted and is doomed to fail

‘There are understandable concerns in a lot of the target communities about who they are talking too and how it will be actioned … whereas, the National Security Hotline, all these matters are well known,’ he said.

The National Security Hotline received 5,293 calls in the last two months, in stark contrast to the call numbers at Step Together.

Experts believe the new helpline’s attempt to market itself as a Lifeline-style advice-line rather than an official government reporting service.

Daily Mail Australia has contacted Step Together and Australian Muslim community leaders for contact. 

Muslim community leaders say the service (pictured is a stock image), launched in June by the New South Wales Minister for Counter Terrorism David Elliot, is viewed with suspicion

Muslim community leaders say the service (pictured is a stock image), launched in June by the New South Wales Minister for Counter Terrorism David Elliot, is viewed with suspicion

 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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