A parliamentary inquiry has found that far-right extremism is a growing threat in Victoria, particularly to multicultural communities.
The ground-breaking inquiry was initiated by the Greens earlier this year and tasked with investigating far-right movements in Victoria and what needs to be done to counter them.
In its final report handed down today, the inquiry found that there had been a re-emergence of far-right extremism in Victoria and that people’s exposure to far-right extremist ideologies had escalated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
It found that inequality, social isolation and economic insecurity increased susceptibility to extremist narratives and that these social conditions were exacerbated by the disruptions of the pandemic.
The report also found that racism and racist scapegoating were common elements of far-right extremist ideologies, putting multicultural communities at risk. Other targeted groups such as LGBTIQA+ people and women were also found to be at risk.
Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said the report issued a challenge to our governments to take this threat seriously and to act to protect our communities.
She urged the Victorian Labor Government to adopt all of the recommendations in the report as a matter of urgency.
Many Victorians were shocked to see neo-Nazis openly organising in the Grampians last year, yet it was a visible warning of the growing threat of far-right extremism to the Victorian community.
And throughout the pandemic many of these extremist groups have sought to exploit people’s genuine fears and anxieties about the pandemic to spread misinformation and cause deep division in our community.
This report has made clear that our leaders need to address social isolation and inequality if we want to address this threat - history has shown us what happens when we don’t act quickly.
Quotes attributable to Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam MLC:
“There is no place for far-right extremism in Victoria.
“This inquiry was the first of its kind in Australia and has laid bare what the Greens have been worried about for years: that the threat of far-right extremism is on the rise in Victoria.
“This report issues a challenge to governments around the country to take this threat seriously, and to act to protect our communities and keep us safe.
“Our leaders have a duty to act – to denounce racism and increase social cohesion – if we want to prevent the rise of far right extremism.”