Twelve young women have tried to leave Melbourne to join the Islamic State (ISIS) militant group.
According to Australian police, the women, aged between 18 and 29, have been recruited on social media.
Five of them are now living with ISIS militants in the conflict zones, according to a special investigation by Victoria Police.
Concern has been rising since mid-2014 about Australians going to the Middle East to fight for ISIS.
Australia’s government will soon introduce legislation allowing it to strip dual citizens fighting in Iraq or Syria of their Australian citizenship.
Task Force Pax was established in April to monitor Victorians believed to be involved with insurgents.
Officials from the task force told local media on May 29 that another four Melbourne women made it as far as Turkey before being turned back by authorities.
One other was stopped by customs officers in Australia while two remain unaccounted for.
The young women are all from Melbourne’s northern and south-eastern suburbs.
According to Assistant Commissioner Tracy Linford, two forensic psychologists had been embedded in the task force to help investigators understand why the young women were trying to join IS.
“The use of psychologists provides us with a far more comprehensive risk assessment and also assists in identifying early intervention opportunities,” she said.
“This gives us the chance to focus on identifying those youths most at risk of radicalization and to engage with them or their families directly.”
Police said the young women were being sold a romantic view of life with ISIS, and had lied to their families about their travel plans.
Authorities were warning parents and friends of young women about the lure of ISIS, saying the women could end up in arranged marriages, or forced into s**ual servitude in the Middle East.
The Australian government believes at least 100 Australians are fighting with militant groups in the Middle East.
Another 150 people in Australia are known to be supporting such groups, while Australia’s intelligence agency, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization (ASIO), is investigating about 400 high-priority terrorist cases.