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About the department

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Our purpose is to achieve a just and secure society

The department supports the Attorney-General as First Law Officer. The Attorney-General is the chief legal adviser to government and minister responsible for national security. We also support the Minister for Justice in counter-terrorism, law enforcement, criminal justice and emergency management.

The department provides legal services, including constitutional advice, to government and agencies of government. We develop and implement policies and programmes to maintain and improve Australia's legal and justice systems. We coordinate national security and emergency management policies and practices. The department also represents the Government in national and international legal, justice, security or emergency-related matters and forums.

Four operational groups carry out the department's role, delivering strategic priorities through a range of policy and programme activities. They are:

  • the Australian Government Solicitor
  • the Civil Justice and Corporate Group
  • the Criminal Justice Group
  • the National Security and Emergency Management Group.

The department also supports the Solicitor-General, the Second Law Officer of the Commonwealth.

The department leads a portfolio that provides expert advice and services on a range of law and justice issues, including emergency management and the management of government records.

  • Portfolio agencies are:
  • Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity
  • Australian Federal Police
  • Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
  • Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission
  • Australian Institute of Criminology
  • Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre
  • Office of Parliamentary Counsel
  • Administrative Appeals Tribunal
  • Family Court of Australia
  • Federal Circuit Court of Australia
  • Federal Court of Australia
  • High Court of Australia
  • Australian Human Rights Commission
  • Australian Financial Security Authority
  • Australian Law Reform Commission
  • Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
  • National Archives of Australia.

Changes to the portfolio

  • The Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal, and the Social Security Appeals Tribunal were amalgamated into a single Administrative Appeals Tribunal from 1 July 2015.
  • The Australian Government Solicitor was consolidated into the Attorney-General's Department from 1 July 2015.
  • The Australian Crime Commission and CrimTrac merged to become the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission from 1 July 2016.
  • The Federal Court of Australia, Family Court of Australia and Federal Circuit Court of Australia merged into a single administrative entity from 1 July 2016.
  • The Ministry for the Arts moved under a machinery-of-government change to the Department of Communications and the Arts in September 2015.

Our ministers

As at 30 June 2016, the portfolio has two ministers – Senator the Hon George Brandis QC as Attorney-General and the Hon Michael Keenan MP as Minister for Justice and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter-Terrorism.

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