Professor Michele Grossman stepped down in March 2017 as Director, Centre for Cultural Diversity and Wellbeing, to take up a new role as Professorial Research Chair in Diversity and Community Resilience at Deakin University’s Alfred Deakin Institute in Melbourne. Michele continues to serve as Honorary Professor of Cultural Studies in the College of Arts and Education, where she supervises PhD students and collaborates with VU colleagues on research projects.

Michele's role as Research Chair is to develop and lead research studies, projects and engagement initiatives in countering violent extremism, understanding the cultural dimensions of community resilience, building social cohesion in pluralistic societies, and extending engagement with community perspectives on how best to address social challenges around violence, community safety and cultural and religious bias. Michele’s research explores countering violent extremism (CVE) in relation to community resilience and cultural diversity.

She also researches the role of multimodality in violent extremist messaging strategies. Michele has led or co-led several influential Australian-based studies with significant policy and program impacts including Community and Radicalisation (2013), Harnessing Resilience Capital (2014), Community Reporting Thresholds (2015) and the Stocktake Research Project, a systematic review of social cohesion, community resilience and violent extremism literature (2016) with research partners including the Australian Attorney-General’s Department, Australian Federal Police, Victoria Police, Victorian Dept. of Premier and Cabinet, Defence Science and Technology Group, and the Australian Multicultural Foundation. Her current research focuses on the experience of the families of young people who join foreign conflicts, and on gendered experiences of violent extremism.

CREST Outputs



Bystander reporting to prevent violent extremism and targeted violence: learning from practitioners

The willingness of friends or family to share concerns about an ‘intimate’ preparing to perpetrate public, mass violence, such as violent extremism or targeted violence, is considered a possible part of preventative strategies. To understand what is needed to help intimate bystanders share information on potential acts of violent extremism or targeted violence, we conducted 25 semi-structured qualitative interviews with experts in intimate bystander reporting, including law enforcement, social service and mental health providers, faith-based leaders, staff in school threat assessment programs, and community practitioners in California and Illinois. Results showed reporting was impeded by multiple factors, including lack of knowledge about violent extremism and reporting processes, fear of being incorrect, difficulty distinguishing between violent extremism and mental illness, low trust in law enforcement, and lack of standardized reporting processes. Practitioners said reporting could be improved by several interventions, including increasing awareness about reporting processes, improving reporting methods and policies, training community members who can take reports, and increasing trust between community members and law enforcement. Improving bystander reporting for targeted violence and violent extremism in the U.S. requires collaboratively strengthening law enforcement and community capacities based on sound theory, best practices, and monitoring and evaluation.

(From the journal abstract)

David P. Eisenman, Stevan Weine, Nilpa D. Shah, Nicole V. Jones, Chloe Polutnik Smith, Paul Thomas & Michele Grossman (2022): Bystander reporting to prevent violent extremism and targeted violence: learning from practitioners, Behavioral Sciences of Terrorism and Political Aggression, DOI: 10.1080/19434472.2022.2130960

Authors: Paul Thomas, Michele Grossman, Stevan Weine, Nilpa D Shah, Nicole V Jones, Chloe Polutnik Smith, David P Eisenman
Obstacles and facilitators to intimate bystanders reporting violent extremism or targeted violence

The first people to suspect someone is planning an act of terrorism or violent extremism are often those closest to them. Encouraging friends or family to report an “intimate” preparing to perpetrate violence is a strategy for preventing violent extremist or targeted mass violence. We conducted qualitative-quantitative interviews with 123 diverse U.S. community members to understand what influences their decisions to report potential violent extremist or targeted mass violence. We used hypothetical scenarios adapted from studies in Australia, Canada, and the United Kingdom. Factors influencing reporting decisions include fears of causing harm to the potential violent actor, self, family, or relationships; not knowing when and how to report; mistrust of law enforcement; access to mental health services; and perceptions that law enforcement lacks prevention capabilities. White and non-White participants were concerned about law enforcement causing harm. Participants would contact professionals such as mental health before involving law enforcement and Black-identified participants significantly preferred reporting to non-law enforcement persons, most of whom are not trained in responding to targeted violence. However, participants would eventually involve law enforcement if the situation required. They preferred reporting in-person or by telephone versus on-line. We found no difference by the type of violent extremism or between ideologically motivated and non-ideologically motivated violence. This study informs intimate bystander reporting programmes in the U.S. To improve reporting, U.S. policymakers should attend to how factors like police violence shape intimate bystander reporting. Our socio-ecological model also situates intimate bystander reporting beside other population-based approaches to violence prevention.

(from the journal abstract)

Eisenman, D. P., Weine, S., Thomas, P., Grossman, M., Porter, N., Shah, N. D., Polutnik Smith, C., Brahmbhatt, Z. & Fernandes, M. (2023) Obstacles and facilitators to intimate bystanders reporting violent extremism or targeted violence, Critical Studies on Terrorism 10.1080/17539153.2023.2269011

Authors: Paul Thomas, Michele Grossman

Back to top