Boosting Australia's security in light of terrorist threats

Date: 20/11/2002

With Australia on heightened security alert, UWS security experts warn that it's not just high-profile national buildings and services that could be targets for terrorist attacks.

Associate Professor Don Robertson and Mr Geoffrey Harris from the University of Western Sydney's Australian Centre for Security Research say our businesses, shopping centres, railways, universities, schools and hospitals are also susceptible to criminal activity and should step up their security.

"For too long we were complacent that large-scale terrorism couldn't reach our shores. However after the Bali bombings we have seen that no building or public space is safe and Australia is just as vulnerable as the rest of the world," says Associate Professor Robertson.

"While it's important that we don't incite panic, this latest alert means we have to review our security procedures at all levels, including our local and regional community infrastructure.

"All organisations should ensure their security programs and alarm systems have been checked and are working. They should also re-visit and review their crisis management plans and evacuation procedures to ensure they are up-to-date and all staff are aware of what to do in an emergency situation."

According to Associate Professor Robertson, heightened security also means being vigilant against anyone who is targeting our local communities.

"It's not just known terrorist organisations that we have to contend with, but also lone-operating individuals who may take advantage of the security situation and target vulnerable but low-profile property," he says.

"We have to make sure that our security measures cast a wide net to counteract any threat that may also come from within."

Associate Professor Robertson says we should also become more aware of what's going on around us.

"Being more alert is one of the simplest but most important things people can do," he says.

"Employees in schools, shopping centres, hospitals and other public buildings should be aware of people coming and going, and should report suspicious behaviour to the authorities.

"We also need to accept that increased security is going to become a fact of life at a local as well as a national level. As inconvenient as it might seem, having your bag searched and ID checked is preferable to experiencing a frightening event that may have been preventable."

Associate Professor Robertson and Mr Harris are available for media comment on security issues today.

For more information or requests for interviews:

Amanda Whibley
Senior Media Officer
Phone: (02) 9852 5824
Mobile: 0418 438 399