The Australian Government continues to work hard to protect Australia from the threat of terrorism.
Keep yourself informed
The Australian Government has used advertising on television, radio, newspapers and the internet to provide critical information and advice on protecting our nation against terrorism. It is important that you try to keep up to date with the news.
Keep an eye out for anything suspicious
Small pieces of information from members of the public can help keep Australia safe from terrorism. Police and security agencies are working hard but you could help them complete the picture. If you see anything suspicious call the 24-hour National Security Hotline on 1800 1234 00. Trained operators take every call seriously and you can remain anonymous.
Terrorists rely on surprise, so we cannot predict every possible situation. However, local and overseas experience has given us some possible warning signs to look out for.
Unusual videotaping or photography of official buildings or other critical infrastructure
Videotaping is one of the ways terrorists gather information about a target. In 2001, a major terrorist plot in Singapore was averted when videotapes of buildings to be attacked, including the Australian High Commission, were discovered.
Suspicious vehicles near significant buildings or in busy public places
Terrorists use vehicles for many different purposes, from surveillance to planting bombs, as in Bali. Vehicles may be parked for an unusually long time, sometimes in no-parking areas. Explosives can be heavy, so cars and vans may sit abnormally low on their suspension. They may be out of registration, or have false or missing number plates. Overseas, a terrorist attack was foiled after police became suspicious of a car with front and rear number plates that didn’t match.
Suspicious accommodation needs
The way terrorists use, rent and buy accommodation is often suspicious. In the UK, a rented garage was turned into a bomb factory. A member of the public reported strange comings and goings of men wearing gloves, which led to the arrest of terrorists who had already attacked Heathrow Airport three times.
Unusual purchases of large quantities of fertilizer, chemicals or explosives
Fertilizer is a widely available product that has been used in many terrorist bombs. In 1995, a bomb in Oklahoma City killed 168 people. One of the people involved was arrested following the discovery of a receipt for nearly a tonne of fertilizer that was used to make the bomb.
A lifestyle that doesn’t add up
While planning an attack, terrorists may lead lives that appear unusual or suspicious. Before the 11 September 2001 attacks, terrorists in the US undertook flight training but weren’t interested in learning how to take off or land. The leader of that group also paid cash for many large purchases such as the flight training, accommodation, vehicles and air tickets.
False or multiple identities
Terrorists frequently use stolen or fake documents, including passports and driver’s licences. They can also have several identities and may give conflicting details to those they come into contact with. Overseas, alert bank employees noticed a series of unusual transactions and identified an account that had been opened in a false name. They reported it to authorities, who uncovered links to a terrorist group.
If you see an unattended package or bag in a public place, with no apparent reason for being there, here’s what to do:
Heightened security is now a way of life. It can be inconvenient, but it is important to remember that these measures are in place to protect us.
Preparing for terrorism should be approached like any emergency such as fire or flooding. This is known as the 'all hazards' approach. A few basic, commonsense measures are outlined below, which you may wish to put in place.
Develop an emergency plan
Decide who in your household will do what in an emergency and make sure everyone knows his or her role. For example, who will check on elderly neighbours or pick up children from school?
Ask someone to be your key contact
Choose an out-of-town friend or relative who is prepared to be a point of contact if the members of your household are separated in an emergency. Make sure everyone (including your key contact) has a full list of your contact details.
Agree on a meeting place
Decide where your group will meet in the event of an incident that makes it impossible for you to go home.
Know your home
In some emergencies you may need to turn off your electricity, water or gas. Make a note of where the main switches and valves are located.
Find out about your local emergency services
Record the numbers of your local police, fire, ambulance and council, and your State Emergency Service, together with gas and electricity suppliers.
Assemble an emergency kit
Prepare an emergency kit and keep it where you can find it easily. It should include a torch, a battery-operated radio, a first aid kit including disposable latex gloves, and copies of your important personal documents.
Knowing what to do in an emergency situation makes it easier to keep yourself and those around you safe. Following is some general emergency advice and information on what to do in specific situations.
If a bomb explodes
If you receive a suspicious package
If you are caught in a fire
A chemical, biological or radiological incident
For more information please go to the Frequently asked questions page.