Australia’s response to terrorism relies on strong cooperative, coordinated and consultative relationships between the Australian Government, State and Territory governments, their departments and agencies.
These agencies have well-defined responsibilities and the authority to detect, prevent and respond to acts of terrorism in Australia. Terrorist incidents involving Australian interests outside Australia are in the first instance dealt with by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
The roles and responsibilities of Australia’s national security agencies and authorities are listed below.
The Australian Government:
The Prime Minister takes the lead role in Australian Government counter-terrorism policy coordination.
The Attorney-General, supported by the National Security Committee of Cabinet and other Ministers, has responsibility for operational coordination on national security issues.
The Attorney-General’s Department coordinates national security and crisis management arrangements and provides legislative advice.
The Protective Security Training Centre (PSTC) sits within the Attorney-General’s Department. It is the primary body for coordination of protective security and counter-terrorism arrangements between Australian Government and State and Territory agencies.
The PSCC channels communications between the Australian Government and the States and Territories, during an incident, through its Watch Office. The Watch Office is a dedicated security coordination facility and operates 24 hours a day. It performs a critical role in the national crisis management arrangements, which operate in the event of a threat or incident of terrorism or other form of politically motivated violence. On a daily basis, it also forms the nexus of an established and effective nation-wide coordination and information-sharing network, incorporating Australian Government, State and Territory agencies and all police services.
Emergency Management Australia (EMA) is a division within the Attorney-General’s Department. EMA coordinates emergency and consequence-management assistance to States and Territories and maintains a reserve of necessary equipment.
The Australian Customs and Border Protection Service seeks to prevent the illegal importation of dangerous goods into Australia and has responsibility for border control.
Border Protection Command provides security for Australia's offshore maritime areas. Combining the resources and expertise of the Australian Customs Service and the Department of Defence, and working with officers from the Australian Fisheries Management Authority, the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, and other Commonwealth, State and Territory agencies, Border Protection Command delivers a coordinated national approach to Australia's offshore maritime security.
The Australian Defence Force maintains capabilities that can assist civil authorities in emergencies.
The Australian Federal Police (AFP) investigates Commonwealth terrorist offences, provides overseas liaison and protective services and performs a State policing function in the ACT. The AFP’s Australian Bomb Data Centre collects data and advises on the illegal use of explosives. The AFP Protective Service provides physical protection services in relation to foreign embassies and certain government facilities, and also counter-terrorism first response at major airports.
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency is responsible for protecting the health and safety of people, and the environment, from the harmful effects of radiation.
The Australian Safeguards and Non-Proliferation Office (ASNO), within the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, regulates nuclear safeguards within Australia to ensure that Australia meets non-proliferation treaty commitments and implements the Chemical Weapons Convention and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. ASNO is also involved in the development of domestic verification arrangements for the Biological Weapons Convention.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is the national authority for assessing threats to national security. It collects, analyses and distributes relevant intelligence. It manages the National Intelligence Group during an incident and maintains a Technical Support Unit to provide technical intelligence to police at the scene of a terrorist incident.
The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) aims to advance the interests of Australia and Australians internationally. DFAT works with our allies and partners to confront terrorism and to enhance international counter-terrorism cooperation. DFAT provides advice about specific security threats abroad for people travelling overseas and provides consular services to Australians living abroad. DFAT also provides information in relation to the protection of foreign dignitaries.
The Department of Health and Ageing maintains stockpiles of antidotes and vaccines and plans for dealing with disease outbreaks.
The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) maintains the Movement Alert List and enforces Australia’s visa regime. DIAC is also actively engaged in a number of international data-accessing initiatives aimed at preventing the movement of terrorists or terrorist groups.
The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) coordinates Australian Government policy responses to terrorism, participates in risk management decisions on dignitary protection, provides the secretariat for the Secretaries Committee on National Security and the National Security Committee of Cabinet, co-chairs, and provides the secretariat for, both the National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NCTC) and the Australian Government Counter-Terrorism Policy Committee (AGCTPC) and advises the Prime Minister on matters related to countering terrorism. The National Security Science and Technology Branch also sits within the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. Its role is to coordinate and focus science, engineering and technology to support Australia's counter-terrorism needs.
The Department of Infrastucture, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government regulates the security of airports, airlines, sea ports and, with State and Territory authorities, other forms of transport.
The Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) contributes to the protection of the national information infrastructure.
State and Territory Governments
State and Territory governments:
Dangerous goods and work cover agencies maintain standards for the security and transport of dangerous substances.
Emergency services provide consequence management in the event of a terrorist incident, consistent with State and Territory plans and structures.
Engineering services/public works departments assist the recovery of physical infrastructure.
Premiers’ or Chief Ministers’ departments coordinate the whole-of-government response and preparedness.
Health departments help develop and maintain biological hazard plans, provide hospital treatment and on-going care for victims.
Police have operational responsibility for preventing, responding to and investigating terrorist activity, threats and incidents.
Welfare agencies assist community recovery through the provision of emergency and ongoing welfare assistance.