Victorian investigation into far-right extremism warned that children are radicalising

A parliamentary inquiry into the rise of far-right extremism in Victoria has heard that children as young as 10 are being radicalized.

The study examines how mainstream and social media have influenced a wave of right-wing nationalism, and how the COVID-19 pandemic has fueled the spread of misinformation and neo-Nazi groups.

Investigative reporter Nick McKenzie, who infiltrated a neo-Nazi group, said one of the biggest concerns was the increasing number of children who are becoming radicalized.

†[This group] is committed to recruiting young impressionable Victorians, and has had some success doing so,” said McKenzie.

McKenzie said deradicalization programs were insufficient to counter the influence of extremism, and called on the committee to conduct an audit.

“Our deradicalization programs in the prison system, others aimed at schools, aren’t really working,” McKenzie said.

“Certainly talking to contacts within law enforcement, they are considered a joke.”

Expert says Australia has seen surge in far-right ‘lone attackers’

The Victorian Greens last year called for an inquiry into far-right extremism, following concerns that Victoria had become a ‘hotbed’ for fringe groups.

In January 2021, police launched an investigation after a group of white supremacists gathered at The Grampians in western Victoria while chanting “Heil Hitler” and white power slogans.

Less than nine months later, what initially started as a demonstration against mandatory vaccines in the construction industry quickly turned into several high-profile, violent protests, drawing the rise of far-right agitators, anti-vaxxers and conspiracy theorists.

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