Push for Mus­lim par­ent helpline

Sunday Herald Sun - - News - ANNIKA SMETHURST

SE­NIOR Mus­lim lead­ers are lob­by­ing the fed­eral gov­ern­ment for tax­payer cash to fund a phone helpline for des­per­ate par­ents, wor­ried about their chil­dren be­ing lured by gangs or ex­trem­ist re­cruiters.

The pro­posal for a $3.5 mil­lion Mus­lim Cri­sis Sup­port Ser­vice, backed by the Aus­tralian Na­tional Univer­sity and the Is­lamic Coun­cil of Vic­to­ria, was pre­sented to se­nior fed­eral gov­ern­ment min­is­ters in Can­berra last week.

Ac­cord­ing to the pro­posal doc­u­ment, the MCSS would in­clude a 24-hour helpline for des­per­ate Mus­lim par­ents wor­ried about chil­dren “vul­ner­a­ble to delin­quent or vi­o­lent anti-so­cial be­hav­iours”.

The money would also fund a mo­bile cri­sis sup­port team to in­ter­vene when Mus­lim fam­i­lies are in cri­sis and pro­vide prac­ti­cal and emo­tional sup­port.

“The dan­ger of Mus­lim youth com­mit­ting anti-so­cial be­hav­iours (such as crim­i­nal ac­tiv­ity, drug and al­co­hol of­fend­ing and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence) is ar­guably be­com­ing greater,” the sub­mis­sion said.

“Of­ten par­ents, par­tic­u­larly those from newly ar­rived com­mu­ni­ties, strug­gle to un­der­stand why things have gone dras­ti­cally wrong with their ado­les­cent chil­dren or where to go for help when this type of cri­sis arises.

“With­out ad­e­quate sup­port struc­tures, many marginalised and dis­en­gaged Mus­lim youth grow­ing up in Aus­tralian so­ci­ety are be­com­ing in­creas­ingly at risk of fall­ing into neg­a­tive so­cial cir­cles or be­ing in­flu­enced by harm­ful so­cial me­dia or in­ter­net ac­tiv­ity.”

Ear­lier this year, a vol­un­tary helpline for Mus­lim fam­i­lies was launched but the group wants the gov­ern­ment to fund a pro­fes­sional sup­port ser­vice, which would in­clude so­cial work­ers and psy­chol­o­gists from the Mus­lim com­mu­nity.

The NSW gov­ern­ment re­cently launched a de­rad­i­calised helpline aimed at young Mus­lims. But Is­lamic Coun­cil vice pres­i­dent Adel Sal­man said par­ents are cry­ing out for the ser­vice.

“To achieve the best out­comes it should be a com­mu­nity-led re­sponse, not a po­lice or jus­tice re­sponse,” he said.

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