Meeting with the National Imams Consultative Forum

24 June 2014

Today I met with the National Imams Consultative Forum as part of the Australian Government’s ongoing commitment to work with community leaders to counter violent extremism and radicalisation. 

I thank the Forum for inviting me to open today’s workshop in Canberra.  It was a valuable opportunity for leaders of the Islamic faith in Australia, academia and government to come together to share experiences and perspectives on community safety, radicalisation and violent extremism.

The Government’s efforts to counter violent extremism in Australia would not be possible without the support and engagement of community leaders such as those I met with today who are equally committed to ensuring our communities are safe and resilient.

The Australian Government deplores the violence and suffering that is occurring in Syria, Iraq and the region, and supports international efforts to find common ground for a peaceful resolution to the conflict.  We extend our sympathies for the loss of life and displacement of people due to the conflict.

Since the conflict began in 2011, the Australian Government has provided over $130 million in aid to help address the humanitarian crisis in Syria and the surrounding region.

It is understandable that the conflict in Syria and the ISIL insurgency in Iraq have evoked strong emotions in Australian communities.  Many Australians have close ties to the region, including family and friends directly affected by the conflict.  However, it is illegal under Australian law for any person in Australia to provide any kind of support to any armed group in Syria or Iraq.

The Government will continue to work with the private sector, non-government organisations and communities to address the issue of Australians traveling to foreign conflicts as well as raise awareness of safe, legal channels to make humanitarian contributions that will reach those most in need.