On May 3, the Victorian government announced that it has allocated $25 million to develop a community-based approach to enhance social cohesion and community resilience to counter all forms of violent extremism. The government press release stated: “This initiative will employ both a whole-of-government and whole-of-community evidence-based approach to address social cohesion, community resilience, marginalisation and extremism.”
OHPI congratulates the government on its holistic approach that addresses social isolation and marginalisation of certain communities – the Muslim community, in particular – in Australia as the root cause of rise in extremism. More importantly, that it is investing resources to address this critical issue.
OHPI is in the perfect place to assist the Victorian Government in this initiative. Our focus is to combat online hate speech, that is hate speech against communities, groups and individuals that is propagated using online and social media tools. Much of our work has been focussed towards fighting online racism, antisemitism and anti-Muslim hate within Australia.
We have the necessary experience, expertise and tools in addressing issues of social tension. As our briefings and reports show, people use social media and other online tools to spread racist hate, lies, stereotypes, and misinformation. In particular, there has been a rise in dedicated online campaigns to isolate and marginalise the Muslim community in Australia. Social media is also used by violent and extremist groups to target vulnerable and isolated youth with their hate propaganda, which is often steeped in antisemitism.
We have successfully managed to identify and help get such content removed, and have developed a working relationship with many popular social media platforms to help us in this task.
Our online hate reporting tool FightAgainstHate.com is an empowering community-led initiative that targets youth, who are the biggest producers and consumers of online and social media content. Our tool gives them a platform to report the online hate they encounter, both the hate that targets them and the hate that tries to indoctrinate them. The reports can be accessed by government agencies to address such hate content early, before it spreads across the community.
We hope to engage the Minister for Multicultural Affairs, Robin Scott, with the important work we are doing, and to get the necessary funding to promote our work to combat online hate, bring communities together, and empower vulnerable youth.