Tele: $12m to tackle hate crimes and violent extremism

New roles will be created in the NSW Police Engagement and Hate Crime Unit and specialist training rolled out to frontline police to help them identify race hate crimes on the spot.

Frontline police will be trained to better identify hate crimes under a $12.3 million package to tackle violent ­extremism and racism.

The funding injection in this week’s NSW Budget will also focus on diverting potential extremists away from radical beliefs early.

Law enforcement have been targeting a rise in far right ­extremist activity in recent years with a focus on groups that incite violence and spread hate, particularly online.

Part of the funding will go to the NSW Police Engagement and Hate Crime Unit, an arm of the Counter Terrorism command that focuses on this unreported crime type.

New analyst and intelligence roles will be created and training rolled out to frontline police to help them better identify race hate crimes on the spot.

Incidents motivated by bias against race, religion, ethnicity, sexuality, disability or political motivation come under the hate crime umbrella.

There is a specific hate crime offence in NSW — known as 93Z — but it is new and sometimes overlooked if other offences, like affray or assault, have also occurred.

Part of the funding will be allocated to reaching, counselling and supporting individuals at risk of radicalising.

“With this additional funding will work to limit the spread and influence of all forms of violent extremism,” Counter Terrorism Minister Anthony Roberts said.

Campaigns and projects to counter hatred and promote community cohesion, including Remove Hate from the Debate, will also receive more funding.

“We are a strong and connected community,” Attorney-General Mark Speakman said.

“This has shone through in NSW’s response to the devastating bushfires and the COVID pandemic.

“But we cannot ignore the fact that a small number of ­individuals would like to divide us, incite fear and threaten our safety. “

One of Sydney’s most shocking hate crimes involved the unprovoked bashing of Muslim mother Rana Elasmar in Parramatta last year.

She has since bravely used her experience to highlight the prevalence of Islamophobia in the community and encourage people to report hate crimes.

“I want people to build strength and seek the help they need if they are in a situation like that,” she said.

“Don’t tolerate people treating you that way, nobody has a right to do that to you verbally or physically in any way.”

Since the Christchurch massacre in which 51 people died, police say they have noted a rise in people signing up to far right extremist rhetoric.

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