Far-right extremism is in a period of growth and transformation in Australia, generating new challenges to maintaining inclusive and cohesive societies built on an appreciation of the richness that diversity brings. The recent attack by Grafton resident Brenton Tarrant on two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, and his subsequent charging with terrorism-related offences, sadly demonstrates that New South Wales (NSW) is not immune to far-right violent extremism. Incomplete online and social media records suggest that Tarrant had links to far-right groups that have a presence in NSW. A number of far-right organisations are currently operational in the state including Reclaim Australia, the Patriots Defence League Australia, the True Blue Crew NSW, the Dingoes, and the Lad Society. Nevertheless, NSW specific empirical research on contemporary far-right groups is lacking, particularly research that explores the nature, scope, scale and mobilising themes used by NSW far-right extremist groups online. By drawing on established research methods that collect and analyse online and social media data, the project maps and thematically analyses the phenomenon of far-right extremism in NSW to generate new insights on groups that promote harmful and destructive behaviour. This research will use online and social media data to generate the first robust empirical base-line study on the propaganda strategies of different far-right groups currently active in New South Wales while concurrently mapping organisational and personal connections between these groups. The multidisciplinary research team from Macquarie University, partnering with researchers from Victoria University and two expert NGOs, will apply a mixed-method approach consisting of the systematic mining and analysis of online data and its subsequent analysis. The project is designed to support policymakers and other stakeholders in understanding the current landscape of far-right groups in NSW and developing effective interventions for those vulnerable to far-right narratives and to offer practical assistance for the community and front-line practitioners working with such individuals. The project will generate comprehensive empirical insights into the characteristics of far-right groups in NSW, including nuanced differences in ideology, goals, agendas, and activism between different group’s ideologies. Embedded in the project methodology is an analysis of the impact of broader public discourse on the ideological narrative construction and propaganda techniques that far-right wing groups use in order to attract people to their cause. Collectively, this knowledge will contribute to a greater understanding of both the appeal of far-right groups and, importantly, weaknesses in their arguments amongst their potential support base. This information is imperative for informing programs and projects aimed at strengthening protective factors and building resilience to racist and exclusivist views that attempt to undermine NSW’s rich diversity.
|Effective start/end date
|24/06/19 → 13/12/19