Father Chris Riley on the “deradicalisation unit”

February 15, 2018

The NSW Government is wasting $6 million dollars on a program they themselves recognise as destined to fail. Minister David Elliot and Premier Gladys Berejiklian’s $6 million “deradicalisation unit” lacks the capability to fixing anything.

The new unit has been created to address young people charged with national security offences and is to function across NSW’s network of juvenile detention centres. I understand the sentiment of helping these troubled young people but when our Premier states that “we have to do something” I question whether this knee-jerk response is made in the best interests of our young people and community, or merely as a means of publicity.

When you propose greater restrictions on access to information and segregate these young people from the general population of prisoners, you only make things worse. These young people feel no connection to their community and you choose to outcast them further? How can you expect them to become positive members of society when you don’t give them the tools to develop? Isolation is how these problems arise, don’t worsen it further.

For years I have advocated for restorative justice, helping young people connect with their community and realise that their actions have serious consequences has proven effective in my years working with young offenders. These young people, in particular, need community support now more than ever.

Isolation is never the answer, instead we must connect these young people to others. Help them build empathy and be faced with the impact of their actions. This is what restorative justice will do and it is the only way to have them make positive life choices in the future.

I implore Minister David Elliot and Premier Gladys Berejiklian to consider investing in restorative justice and not a $6 million program that only seeks to divide further.

Yours Faithfully,

Father Chris Riley
CEO and Founder at Youth Off The Streets

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