Sat, 28 Jan 2023

AFP Community Liaison Teams kept busy in 2022

Australian Federal Police
03 Dec 2022, 08:04 GMT+10

Editor's Note: Audio grabs from Commander Stephen Dametto available via Hightail and images via separate Hightail link

The AFP's Community Liaison Teams (CLTs) have delivered crucial online safety presentations to thousands of migrants and new Australians around the country in 2022 in a bid to help protect them from scams, radicalisation and grooming.

With 10 members located across the country, CLTs work to ensure trust through engagements that strengthen social cohesion and resilience within culturally and linguistically diverse communities (CALD).

AFP Counter Terrorism Investigations Commander Stephen Dametto said while preventing terrorism was a large part of the CLT's work, efforts to keep people safe through engagement covered a range of topics.

"The long COVID lockdowns resulted in people being isolated and spending more time alone on their computers. Because of that, there have been an extremely high number of requests for cyber safety presentations this year," he said.

"Any member of the community can be at risk of online threats - such as scams, radicalisation or sex offenders - but people may be more vulnerable if English is not their first language, or they are new to Australia and may not know the laws or be comfortable seeking help."

CLT members in Victoria have delivered ThinkUKnow cyber presentations to thousands of students, teachers and parents of many different ethnic backgrounds from Pakenham to Shepparton, advising them how to protect their online activity and steps to take if they were a victim.

CLT members in other states also provided cyber safety advice to CALD communities and partner agencies that support multicultural groups.

The AFP's CLTs across the nation engage directly with communities across all religious, cultural and ethnic backgrounds to build productive relationships, establish police legitimacy, raise awareness about and disrupt radicalisation; and ascertain and understand community sentiment.

Dedicated CLT members attend community and youth events, organise and participate in forums with spiritual and community leaders and act as a conduit between the community and law enforcement.

This year, the CLT in Victoria has launched creative "Train the Trainer" courses, with female leaders and Bunnings staff who work extensively with migrant communities.

The course empowered participants with creative ideas to engage community groups for fundraisers, art therapy and community group activities.

Commander Dametto said there had been many requests for the creative engagement activities as the public gained confidence that the major threat of COVID had been overcome.

"Mental health concern around vulnerable and isolated members in the community have promoted 'out of the box' activities to get them re-engaged," Commander Dametto said.

In Queensland, the AFP CLT supported the Somali League Cup soccer tournament, donating medals and gift vouchers to high-performing players.

Many of the young players have come from refugee backgrounds and it was not uncommon for them to have lost fathers and other male mentors in violent conflicts abroad.

Commander Dametto said supporting community initiatives, like a sports event, provided opportunities for AFP officers to talk to and build trust with people who might come from places where police were not trusted.

CLTs regularly partner with other agencies, including the Department of Home Affairs Community Liaison Officer (CLO) Network and Regional Settlement Teams, and State/Territory police, to support community engagement between law enforcement and diverse communities on sensitive matters.

"Our community liaison officers help recent arrivals to Australia, including forcibly displaced persons who have sought refuge here," Commander Dametto said.

The AFP is also striving to encourage people in CALD communities to consider a career in law enforcement.

Commander Dametto said the AFP wanted to increase diversity in recruitment to enable the agency to better represent the communities it serves.

"We want everyone living in Australia to feel safe in their community and that means protecting Australia from extremist violence in all its forms," he said.

Media enquiries:

AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297

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