What is violent extremism?

Violent extremism is a willingness to use unlawful violence, or support the use of unlawful violence by others, to promote a political, ideological or religious goal. It exists along a spectrum from passive support to active promotion of violence towards ideological goals. There are a number of reasons people become radicalised and then extremists, and the causes are complex and unique to every individual. There is no one pathway to violent extremism although it’s often set in motion through a desire for social connection. The presence of online social commentary on world events such as COVID-19 means many more people are being exposed to a growing range of extremist views. COVID-19 in particular has heightened and broadened the spread of violent extremist views and created a disconnect between some communities. Individuals and groups have exploited the fear, isolation and economic hardship individuals would have felt during COVID-19 to promote their ideological cause. During COVID-19 there was a significant increase in screen time among our vulnerable youth. This exposure is worrying due to the ongoing debate surrounding the link between extremist content and acts of violence or the potential for recruitment in unmonitored online spaces. The reach and influence has never been greater.

Learn more about Violent extremism.

What is Countering Violent Extremism?

Countering Violent Extremism or “CVE” works to reduce the risk of politically, ideologically or religiously motivated violence. CVE is distinct from, but also complements, law enforcement approaches. CVE aims to reduce the likelihood of violent extremism by providing early intervention and support to individuals to address social, psychological or behavioural issues. It also aims to reduce the harmful consequences of violent extremism for society more broadly by building community cohesion and preparedness.

Step Togethers primary focus is on diverting individuals away from violent extremism. We also support individuals in disengaging from violent extremism if they have already headed down that path. Unlike “deradicalisation” programs, we don’t argue ideology or police thought, but support individuals to move towards safe and healthy life pathways.

Advice and support

If you would like further advice and support on how best to help someone you care about, contact our Step Together helpline workers.

Last updated:

23 Oct 2023

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