Radicalisation of Australia’s youth, who is vulnerable?

March 2015

Radicalisation of Australia’s youth, who is vulnerable?

In recent months, we have been reading a lot about Young Australian boys joining radical groups, both here in Australia and overseas, and the root of this behaviour can be identified as social isolation. As a society, we need to pull together as a community and ensure that all young people have a sense of belonging.
In the case of Jake Bilardi – a socially isolated young man – Father Chris Riley, CEO and Founder at Youth Off The Streets, believes that there are a number of contributing factors to this isolation, one of which is a lack of a positive male role model (such as a father).
“Being fatherless increases the odds that a boy will grow up in a neighbourhood where resources of all kinds are limited. Being fatherless is one of the most powerful indicators that a child will be poor, will be moved from home to home and will therefore have more difficulty establishing stable and positive relationships with peers,” he says.
Jake’s horrendous suicide bombing could be perceived as him needing to belong. This need to belong is felt by thousands of young Australians like Jake. They are feeling disenfranchised and isolated from their community – often through poverty – and have developed subgroups.
Father Chris Riley believes we are in danger of creating an ‘underclass’ in society because these kids lack the help and opportunities that others have.
“Disenfranchised young people form subgroups which engage in anti-social activities – including criminal activities and violence. They are vulnerable young men who could become fodder for IS, just like Jake. The key to preventing this is to give them a sense of belonging, opportunities to improve their life. Not having them isolated from the community would go a long way towards helping them,” he says.
Bringing the community together to help the disenfranchised, paying particular attention to those who lack a positive male role model, is the key to stopping the radicalisation of Australia’s youth. Social isolation from poverty and lack of a positive male role model is a recipe that IS actively seek out when recruiting.
Whenever young people are in trouble, we all need to react as a community because the most important intervention is respectful dialogue and an understanding of what these young people are feeling. Every effort must be made to give them a sense of belonging.
Father Chris Riley is calling on all Australians to take care of Muslim youth and any socially isolated young person.
“All Australians need to step-up and reach out to any young people who are vulnerable because they are Australian youth. To make sure no more young people are radicalised, the Muslim community has to act now, rather than calling for government aid. Only then, will our young people be safe.”
Father Riley is available for interview.
For any media requests, please contact:
Youth Off The Streets: Daniel O’Keeffe
Email: DanielO@youthoffthestreets.com.au
Phone: 02 9330 3543 / 0418 271 580

Youth Off The Streets Mission:

Helping young people to discover greatness within, by engaging, supporting and providing opportunities to encourage and facilitate positive life choices.

About Youth Off The Streets:

Youth Off The Streets is a community organisation working for young people who are homeless, drug dependent and recovering from abuse. We support these young people as they work to turn their lives around and overcome immense personal traumas such as neglect and physical, psychological and emotional abuse.

Since opening in 1991, Youth Off The Streets has grown from a single food van delivering meals to young homeless people on the streets of Kings Cross to a major youth specific agency providing a wide range of services offering a full continuum of care.

It is our goal that these young people will leave our care drug free, with a high school education, living skills and a full or part time job in hand.

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