At the beginning of September we posted re the dodgy consequences of the UK PREVENT agenda in Are you a youth worker, who’s a Green and anti-capitalist? Beware of PREVENT! Indeed there have been a flurry of articles this last week as the government makes Preventing Violent Extremism [to give PREVENT its full title] a statutory duty for schools: along with prisons, local authorities and NHS trusts. These bodies are now under a legal obligation to “have due regard to the need to prevent people from being drawn into terrorism”. According to the government’s guidance, the day-to-day responsibilities of teachers and even nursery staff now include being able to spot children who might be vulnerable to radicalisation, and dealing with them – if necessary, by referring them to the government’s anti-radicalisation programme, Channel. And we presume youth workers are under similar manners.
Not to be outdone the Australian federal government has produced a Radicalisation Awareness Kit in the form of a 32-page booklet, launched by.the Orwellian-titled ‘Minister Assisting the Prime Minister on Terrorism’, Michael Keenan. Predictably, as is the case in the UK, the Minister argues the main targets of the booklet are young people at risk of being radicalised by Islamist groups such as Islamic State. Islamophobia continues to be stirred. And yet the single case study under the heading ‘Violent Extremism’ is a young woman, Karen. And what’s this dangerous individual been up to? ‘ Well, whisper it softly, Karen becomes involved in the “alternative music scene, student politics and left-wing environmental activism” when she leaves home. Thankfully though, for the anxious anti-terrorist Minister, Karen comes to her senses and returns to conformist orthodoxy and her loving family. Follow her story below.
Understandably green activists and educators are up in arms about linking environmental concern and alternative music to violent terrorism.
Jonathan La Nauze from the Australian Conservation Foundation said the booklet was misleading and potentially dangerous.
“This is very disappointing,”
“It sounds like something that’s been dreamt up in the cigar room of the Institute of Public Affairs. There’s no resemblance to the way that people in Australia feel about their environment and the need to stand up to protect it.
“To link standing up for the places that we love, standing up for the future of our children, to violence and extremism and terrorism, does nothing to combat a real threat to the safety of people or to respect the very peaceful and very meaningful protests that people engage in from all walks of life to ensure that we have a safe future in this country.”
Although, for the time being, it’s probably best to give up going to the local folk club on a Sunday. All those bloody songs about resistance and rebellion are bound to attract the attention of the thought police. And just to be on the safe side, I’m going to hide all my old Sex Pistols records.
Joking aside [ and I’m not sure I’m jesting?] this continued effort to monitor and judge the content of conversations between young people and whomever has serious implications for a young person-centred, process-led youth work. How on earth can a trusting, critical dialogue be created if a young person thinks the worker is duty-bound to grass him or her up at the first sound of a controversial opinion? And what happens to the very notion of radical youth work praxis? Methinks we should be making a much greater fuss about this authoritarian, prejudiced propaganda both Up Above and Down Under.
Ta to Maureen Rodgers of Yes….Another Youth Work Network for the link