Jun 28, 2018

Nursing student accused of being ISIS member

The identity of a South Australian nursing student – who has been accused of being a member of the terrorist group ISIS – has been revealed for the first time.

Zainab Abdirahaman-Khalif, an Australian citizen, was charged in May last year with being a member of a terrorist organisation.

Media reports claim she was arrested after trying to fly to Turkey on a one-way ticket.

Following a search at her home in Adelaide’s western suburbs last year, police claim Ms Abdirahaman-Khalif sang ISIS propaganda songs, and she had sworn allegiance to the terrorist group online.

Assistant Commissioner Ian McCartney from the Australian Federal Police told 9 News, “There was online activity in terms of her engaging with… [terror] suspects around the world.”

Ms Abdirahaman-Khalif, who is from Somalia, was interacting online with people from Kenya, who police allege are ISIS members.

Ms Abdirahaman-Khalif pleaded not guilty to the charge of knowingly being a member of a terrorist organization. She claims her friends are not terrorists.

The Adelaide Magistrate Court found that Ms Abdirahaman-Khalif did have a case to answer, and committed her case to the Supreme Court. The Magistrate’s Court imposed a suppression order over her identity that prevented her name and image being published..

Outside the court, Ms Abdirahaman-Khalif’s lawyer, Craig Caldicott, said, “She’s not guilty because to sing a song in your bedroom last time I checked wasn’t an office.”

“We are not disputing there may have been a prurient interest in IS, but that in itself is not an offence.”

On Wednesday, the suppression order over Ms Abdirahaman-Khalif’s identity was revoked by the Supreme Court, meaning her identity can now be revealed.

Ms Abdirahaman-Khalif’s Supreme Court trial starts on 13 August and is expected to run for as long as six weeks.

If found guilty, Ms Abdirahaman-Khalif faces up to 10 years in prison.

What security checks are required in aged care?

This story is a reminder of the importance of police checks in the aged care industry.

All staff who work in aged care must obtain a police check.

National police checks are intended to help aged care providers recruit staff that are suitable for caring for the elderly, and must be renewed every three years.

A police check is also known as a National Criminal History Record Check.

A police check will disclose if a person has been convicted of an offence, has been charged with and found guilty of an offence but discharged without conviction, or is the subject of any criminal charge still before a Court.

A person who has committed an offences of murder, sexual assault, or any other form of assault is considered to be not an appropriate person to be employed in aged care.

Some convictions do not exclude the person from working in aged care. The decision of whether or not to employ the person can be made after consideration of the relevance of the conviction to the role, the person’s access to residents, the person’s level of supervision, how long ago the conviction occurred, as well as other considerations.

Convictions are considered to be ‘spent’ if they occurred more than 10 years prior to the check, and therefore a ‘spent’ conviction may not appear on a police check.

It’s advisable that police checks are conducted before a new staff member begins work.

Could we be doing more to protect staff and residents in nursing homes?

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