Radicalisation is a concept that is often talked about in the wake of violent extremist or terrorist acts, but which is ill-defined and even more difficult to understand. A new project has put radicalisation under the microscope.

As part of a pilot project recently funded by the Office for the Advocate for Children and Young People, Lise Waldek, Rolando Ochoa Hernandez and Julian Droogan from the Department of Security Studies and Criminology will begin looking at the drivers behind the pathways that young Australians take into forms of criminality, including terrorism and violent extremism.

The research involves examining what court records reveal about the process of radicalisation, as well as what leads young people to violent extremism compared with other types of criminal activity.

Lise Waldek and Julian Droogan’s research focuses on counter-terrorism and the relationship between online spaces, such as social media, and violent extremism. Their work led to the development of Multicultural NSW’s $10 million COMPACT Program that aims to create community resilience to violent extremism. They have also been responsible for evaluating online programs that attempt to deradicalise young people from far-right violent extremism.

“This project seeks to demystify the drivers that lead young Australians to become violent extremists and will give us a fuller understanding of how this happens across different social, religious and political spectrums,” Dr. Julian Droogan explains.

“Radicalisation is often portrayed as a process that occurs in the lead-up to a violent act, but this multidisciplinary research project will move beyond simplistic understandings of radicalisation and examine the range of intersecting factors behind it.”

People sitting in a circle talking.