Question: What does Step Together do?AAnswer:
Step Together is a helpline and online service for the community and individuals, looking for help on how to best support and protect someone they know from involvement in violent extremism. Our website provides easy access to information to help answer some of your questions as well as who to contact if you have more serious concerns. Our trained support staff are here to help answer your questions, every day, 7am to 9pm. Learn more about Step Together here
Question: What is violent extremism?AAnswer:‘Violent extremism’ refers to a person or group who justify or use fear, terror and violence to achieve ideological, political or social change.
Violent extremism can come from any side of the political spectrum, any religion, race or other grouping. The key defining behaviour that makes this a problem for our society is the use of violence to pursue goals for change.While there is no single profile of what makes someone turn towards violent extremism, in many cases the path begins with loneliness, social isolation and a need to belong. Often this can show up as social problems before it escalates into violent activity. That’s why a person’s support networks are so important – as they are closest, they are best placed to notice changes in behaviour that might indicate something is wrong. People within someone’s trusted networks are also well-placed to help resolve the social issues that can lead to involvement. By building the knowledge and strategies these support networks can offer (or directing them to services that can assist), Step Together aims to play a role in helping them play a greater role in protecting their loved ones from involvement in dangerous behaviour.Step Together aims to work with the community to identify behaviours that are of concern and provide advice and referrals to services that can help.
Question: What is countering violent extremism?AAnswer:
Countering violent extremism or “CVE” work is focused on reducing politically, ideologically or religiously motivated violence in the community. CVE is a necessary complement to law enforcement. CVE work seeks to reduce the risk of violent extremism by providing early intervention and support to address social, psychological or behavioural issues before they escalate to violent action. In other countries, countering violent extremism also works to reduce the potential impact of those advocating violent extremist ideologies by offering alternate points of view.
Question: What can we do to reduce occurrences?AAnswer:
One of the most effective ways to reduce occurrences is for people’s support networks to play a role in ensuring that the vulnerable person stays connected to those that care about them. Strong support networks that encourage open expression of ideas help encourage healthy discussion and reduce the need for people to take their beliefs ‘underground’.
If more vulnerable people can get the help and support they need from those that they trust and care for, we can vastly reduce the number of people who feel the need to act out.
Acting and dealing with issues early on is the best method of helping those at risk of involvement, and can offer them a better path to take. There are lots of things you can do:
- Maintaining open communication is often the most important thing. A positive relationship is the starting point from which other types of help and support can be built and can even be an effective intervention. Even if the individual decides to break contact with close friends or family, these same people can provide a lifeline to those needing help in the future.
- It’s important to listen and try to understand an individual’s reasons for their troubling behaviour in order to assist them. Even if you disagree with what they are saying, it’s important that they know they are accepted and supported as a person.
With early intervention, we can take a step to change the course of a vulnerable person’s life with timely support and information. That’s what Step Together is all about.
Question: What happens to my information?AAnswer:
Any information we collect is used to give you the best possible assistance with your query and is held in accordance with NSW privacy legislation. As an early intervention service that seeks to provide information and referrals, you can seek help and support from Step Together without the fear of law enforcement being involved or from your identity being recorded.
However, if we become aware of a serious and imminent risk to the safety of yourself or others, or that a crime may be committed, we will encourage you to contact emergency services or the police and we may need to as well. This is a legal requirement that applies to all counselling services including domestic violence, suicide, mental and social health services
Question: Can I call the Step Together helpline and remain anonymous?AAnswer:
Yes, you can request that you remain anonymous, as Step Together is a confidential support service. Providing some information may be necessary in order to get the help you need, but this information is classified as a Health Record, so is stored securely and may be used for duty of care, quality and training purposes. More information on privacy and rights can be found on the Step Together Privacy Statement.
It is only in the event of a serious and imminent threat to yourself or others that some information may be shared with third parties to ensure you and the community are protected, as is standard practice for all counselling services.
Question: Is the helpline the same thing as the National Security hotline?AAnswer:
No, unlike the National Security Hotline, Step Together is not a reporting service. We exist to provide help and referrals to services that can assist people who may know someone vulnerable to violent extremism. By helping the support networks of vulnerable people such as family and friends, we provide an early intervention countering violent extremism service that aims to stop people going down the path to violent extremism before it goes too far.
Question: What can I do if I'm concerned by the behaviour of someone I know?AAnswer:
Providing a friendly, non-judgemental and sympathetic space for people to talk is one of the best things you can do. Showing the people you know that you care for them and support them at all times is one of the most powerful ways to protect them.
People sometimes act out when they feel isolated and unloved or simply that no-one listens or cares about their feelings, so ensuring that connections and ‘safe spaces’ to talk to trusted people are available is vital.
Early action by concerned families, friends and communities and other services where needed is key to helping people avoid the path to violent extremism. With our support and referrals to relevant services, you can find the information you need to better support the people you care about and protect them from engaging in dangerous behaviour.
If you are worried about someone you know or are concerned by behaviour you have seen, please call us on 1800 875 204. If you feel you cannot call the Step Together helpline or another service provider yourself, then ask someone you trust, such as a family member, friend, professional or community leader to assist you.
Question: What if someone is threatening to harm themselves or others?AAnswer:
If someone indicates they are going to harm themselves or other people, and is planning or intending to commit a violent act, this should be taken very seriously and must be acted upon immediately. Please call triple zero (000) as soon as possible.
- someone is seriously injured or in need of urgent medical help,
- your life or property is threatened,
- you have just witnessed a serious accident or crime,
then this should be reported straight away to give you the assistance you need. Call 000.
If someone is threatening self-harm or suicide, take them to hospital or call 000 for help
Question: Where can I go for more information?AAnswer:
If you need more information or would like to learn more about how you can help someone at risk of violent extremism, please contact us on 1800 875 204.
You can find local services in NSW to support yourself or people you know online using HSNet. HSNet is a free website available to anyone looking for a service in NSW.
For additional services that you can go to for help, please see the ‘additional services’ section.