Updated 14 September 2018
PDF version [243KB]
Cat Barker and Helen Portillo-Castro
Foreign Affairs, Defence and Security Section
This Quick Guide provides links to key websites
with information on national security arrangements and issues.
Federal government agencies and
national security website—provides
information on what governments are doing to protect Australia’s national
security; outlines relevant legislation and the roles of federal and state and
territory agencies in countering terrorism; and provides links to key publications relating to national security. It also has a list
of organisations identified as terrorist organisations under the Criminal Code
Act 1995 (Cth) and associated
regulations, with links to statements of reasons and the Australian
Government’s listing protocol.
- Department of
Home Affairs—the lead department for national
security policy. The department’s national security page links to information on countering violent extremism;
critical infrastructure resilience; data retention and telecommunications
interception and surveillance; cybersecurity; and regulated materials such as
plastic explosives and chemicals of security concern.
- Australian Security
Intelligence Organisation—Australia’s security
intelligence agency. Its role is to identify, investigate, and provide advice
on threats to security including espionage, sabotage, attacks on Australia’s
defence system, acts of foreign interference and serious threats to Australia’s
territorial and border integrity.
- Australian Federal Police—national security functions include preventing
and countering terrorism in Australia and overseas, aviation security
and policing and protective
- Office of National Assessments—responsible
for collecting, analysing and providing advice on information (including open
source) relating to international matters of political, strategic or economic
interest to Australia. It is also responsible for coordinating and evaluating Australia’s
foreign intelligence efforts.
- Australian Secret
Intelligence Service—Australia’s overseas secret intelligence
collection agency. Its main functions are to collect and distribute across the
Australian Government foreign intelligence that may affect Australia’s
interests, carry out counter-intelligence activities and engage with overseas
intelligence and security agencies.
- Australian Signals
Directorate (ASD)—provides the national security community with foreign
signals intelligence and cyber capabilities, including support for Australian
Defence Force operations. ASD became a statutory agency in July 2018, formally
incorporating the Australian Cyber Security
Centre (ACSC), which leads Australian Government efforts on
- Critical Infrastructure
Centre—part of the Department of Home Affairs, the Centre assists owners
and operators of critical infrastructure facilities to identify and manage national
security risks such as sabotage, espionage and coercion. It also manages the Register of Critical
Infrastructure Assets, created to give the Australian Government better
visibility of who owns, controls and has access to particular assets.
Department page on national security—provides information on policy and
legislation covering areas such as espionage, foreign interference, and
counter-terrorism, and the Protective Security Policy Framework.
Parliamentary and other oversight
Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security—reviews and reports on Bills
relevant to national security; certain existing national security legislation; the
administration and expenditure of the six agencies that comprise the Australian intelligence
community (AIC); other matters relevant to those agencies as referred by
the relevant Minister or a House of Parliament; the operation and effectiveness
of the mandatory data retention regime; and regulations proscribing terrorist
organisations. It does not review intelligence priorities, operational methods
or particular operations.
- Inspector-General of
Intelligence and Security (IGIS)—inquires
into and reports on the activities of the agencies comprising the AIC to ensure
that they comply with Australian laws and any directions or guidelines given by
the responsible Minister, are proper, and are consistent with human rights. Public
reports are published for some inquiries, and all are summarised in the
- Independent National
Security Legislation Monitor—reviews and reports on the
operation, effectiveness and implications of federal counter-terrorism and
national security legislation.
Select research organisations and
- Australian Strategic Policy
Institute (ASPI)—established in 2001 as an
independent think tank and receives funding from the Australian Government.
ASPI produces analysis and
commentary, hosts events
and maintains a blog, The
Strategist, covering a range of strategic policy issues.
- Lowy Institute for
International Policy—an independent think tank that provides research
and analysis on a wide range of foreign and strategic policy, defence and
security issues. Lowy produces a number of publications and regularly
comments on key issues via its blog, The
- National Security College
at the Australian National University—conducts and commissions research, hosts public seminars, and
on current and emerging national security issues.
- Institute for
Regional Security (formerly the Kokoda Foundation)—a think tank with a
mixture of private and public funding. Its publications include the journal, Security
- Brookings Institution—a
United States-based non-profit public policy organisation, Brookings produces a
range of publications, organised by topic on its website, with the ‘Defense and Security’
page the most relevant for national security issues.
- Center for Strategic and
International Studies—a United States-based think tank focusing on
international relations and global security issues. Its range of publications
can be viewed by topic, with the ‘Defense and Security’
page the most relevant for national security issues.
- Chatham House—a
United Kingdom-based think tank that specialises in energy,
environment and resources, economics, international security and international
law. Its range of publications can be viewed by topic, with the ‘International
Security’ page the most relevant for national security issues.
Terrorism and Insurgency Centre—in addition to ongoing analysis of
terrorist activities around the world, this resource contains a database of
comprehensive profiles of terrorist organisations which can be provided to senators,
members and their staff on request.
This update reflects recent machinery-of-government changes relevant to
national security, and expanded functions for some Commonwealth agencies, as at
the date of publication. Implementation of recommendations in the 2017
Independent Intelligence Review will entail further changes that will
be reflected in a subsequent update.
As at the date of publication, the Office
of National Intelligence Bill 2018, which proposes to change the name and
expand the functions of the Office of National Assessments, was before
For copyright reasons some linked items are only available to members of Parliament.
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