Exploring the Challenges of Delivering Services for Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) in Western Sydney

A team of researchers led by Professor Kevin Dunn have explored how service providers dealing with young people in the Greater Western Sydney region understand "violent extremism" and whether they are available to help "at risk" youth. The project is supported by The Australian Intervention Support Hub (AISH) at the Australian National University, and has also included The University of Queensland and Victoria University. The research team includes Dr Virginia Mapedzahama (WSU), Rhonda Itaoui (WSU) and Alexia Derbas (WSU).

The Project

This qualitative exploratory study was commissioned by The Australian Intervention Support Hub (AISH) at the Australian National University to investigate the current capabilities, challenges and requirements for youth services in the Greater Western Sydney (GWS) region. A great deal of public and academic discourse has been directed at "countering violent extremism" in recent years, with the perceived threat of "home-grown" terrorism placing pressure on marginalised young people living in Western societies. Although efforts have been made to broaden definitions of what constitutes "violent extremism", this rhetoric and its effects have chiefly been aimed at Muslims. The project therefore endeavoured to incorporate a broad definition of what could be deemed violent extremism, and is committed to understanding the impacts of narrower ideas on Australia's Muslim community. 

Broadly, the objective of this research was to investigate the current availability of service providers that work with young people and/or families "at risk" of violent extremism in GWS.


Between May and July 2016, interviews and focus groups with eighteen organisation representatives were conducted. Participants represented youth centres, community organisations, religious organisations, youth health providers, council members and migrant resource centres. The field work gathered qualitative data on the organisations' day-to-day activities and experiences.

The interviews and focus groups were semi-structured, aiming to gain data on: issues faced by the community serviced by participants, organisational understanding of the social factors contributing to these issues, and perceptions and experiences of ideologically-driven violence among experts working closely with young people.

The findings of this study are currently being collated and analysed, but preliminary analysis has shown gender-based violence to be of concern.


Dunn, K., Derbas, A., Mapedzahama, V., & Itaoui, R. (2016). Exploring the challenges of delivering services for countering violent extremism (CVE) in Western Sydney. Western Sydney University, School of Social Sciences and Psychology: Unpublished report.