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 Strategic Priority 2

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Protecting Australia by delivering effective national security policies, legislation and programmes
  • Ensuring national security legislative frameworks are effective and responsive to evolving national security challenges
  • Protecting Australia’s critical infrastructure and essential services from security risks
  • Operating the Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre and National Security Hotline
  • Working with Australian Government entities and the telecommunications industry to effectively implement data retention obligations
  • Implementing a National Facial Biometric Matching Capability
  • Operating the Computer Emergency Response Team to provide a more secure digital economy
  • Developing initiatives to divert individuals from radicalising to violent extremism and prevent individuals from engaging in or supporting terrorism in Australia or overseas
  • Maintaining an effective counter-terrorism capability nationally.



KPI 1: Our community impact
Measure: Community satisfaction with and awareness of national security strategies
While not a comprehensive measure of the community impact of all our national security strategies, we note that during the reporting period there were 26,500 contacts from the community with the National Security Hotline, CERT Australia responded to 14,445 incidents and the Countering Violent Extremism Centre undertook numerous community engagement programmes.
KPI 2: Our effectiveness in achieving objectives
Measure: Stakeholder and client satisfaction with the effectiveness of the department’s contribution to national security
Stakeholder survey indicated 87% of
respondents were satisfied.
KPI 3: Our efficiency in meeting goals
Measure: Total instances of national security policy advice, programme work and legislative change that are on time, within budget and meet requirements
Policy and programme work met requirements.
KPI 4: Our professionalism, skills and commitment
Measure: Stakeholder and client satisfaction with the professionalism, skills and commitment of our staff delivering nationals security initiatives
Stakeholder survey indicated 98% of respondents were satisfied.


The department delivered many important initiatives this year to meet the increasing level of potential threats to Australia’s people, infrastructure, technologies, businesses and government agencies. Many of these initiatives involved working with multiple Commonwealth, state and territory agencies, community groups and international governments or organisations. Our stakeholders’ high level of satisfaction in our effectiveness in achieving objectives (87 per cent) and our professionalism, skills and commitment (92 per cent) reflects the department’s efficacy in assisting our stakeholders in their work.

Other key results from our stakeholder survey indicate high satisfaction levels with how the department focuses on the important issues to government (91 per cent), clearly delineates responsibilities between the department and other organisations (92 per cent) and actively contributes to whole-of-government initiatives (91 per cent).

Effective legislation for national security challenges

In July 2015, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security published the Australian Government’s response to its recommendations for telecommunications interception law reform. The department consulted with Commonwealth, state and territory agencies on priorities for reform, and commenced a range of policy reviews recommended by the Committee.

The Counter-Terrorism Legislation Amendment Bill (No. 1) 2015 was introduced in the Senate in November 2015. The Bill was a direct response to operational learnings identified from recent counter-terrorism operations. The Bill lapsed following the proroguing of Parliament in April 2016.

The department also led discussions with the Quintet countries (United States, United Kingdom, Canada, New Zealand, and Australia) on improving cross-border access to telecommunications data.

Protecting critical infrastructure

The department helps protect Australia’s critical infrastructure and essential services, such as energy, food, water, transport, communication, health and banking, from security risks. Collaboration with critical infrastructure owners and operators is central to the Government’s Critical Infrastructure Resilience Strategy.

In 2015–16 we continued these partnerships through the Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN), a secure, non-competitive environment where stakeholders work together to identify the critical components of their networks, understand cross-sector dependencies and develop risk management strategies.

The department’s Critical Infrastructure Programme for Modelling and Analysis, supported the TISN by carrying out assessments in the water, electricity, health, and banking and finance sectors.

We also work closely with the Department of Treasury and security agencies to support the Government’s decisions on foreign involvement in critical infrastructure. In 2015–16 we assessed 94 foreign investment applications before the Foreign Investment Review Board.

Operating the Crisis Coordination Centre and National Security Hotline

The Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre (CCC) operates 24 hours a day, 365 days per year to provide whole-of-government situational awareness and crisis coordination. The centre collates and distributes information and warnings across the Government, state governments and their agencies, TISN and non-government organisations. During 2015–16, the centre monitored and reported on 964 unique incidents and distributed 2,067 incident-specific notifications and updates. This was in addition to compiling and disseminating 1,460 routine situational awareness products.

In 2015–16, the National Security Hotline (NSH) moved from operating as a stand-alone function to being an integral element of the CCC. The NSH provides a single point of contact for the public to report information on possible signs of terrorism, as well as providing information and reassurance to the public regarding the national counter-terrorism arrangements. This year the NSH received more than 26,500 contacts by telephone, email and text messages.

Reforms to protective security arrangements

Keeping the Government safe from the ‘trusted insider’ threat was the focus of a new taskforce established in the department in August 2015. The taskforce is taking into account the personnel security recommendations of the Independent Review of Whole-of-Government Internal Regulation by Barbara Belcher (the Belcher Review). We also began reviewing the Protective Security Policy Framework and broader protective security policy arrangements in collaboration with stakeholders across government to respond to other recommendations of the Belcher Review.

Implementing data-retention obligations

We worked with key agencies and the telecommunications industry to implement data-retention obligations. Consistent with the Government’s goal of industry-wide compliance by the end of the implementation phase in April 2017, we provided guidance to telecommunications service providers through the department’s hotline, email and face-to-face meetings. Departmental representatives also participated in industry forums.

By 28 June 2016, the Office of the Communications Access Coordinator had recorded 911 interactions with industry on the data retention regime. The department actioned more than 98 per cent of these. We reviewed data-retention implementation plans and/or data-retention exemption/variation applications from more than 330 service providers.

We also assisted Commonwealth, state and territory enforcement agencies with processes to comply with new reporting and record-keeping requirements.

The department also developed regulations concerning the requirement for agencies to obtain a warrant prior to authorising access to a journalist’s metadata to identify a source, supported the appointment of new Public Interest Advocates and provided advice to agencies on compliance requirements.

Implementing a National Facial Biometric Matching Capability

We continued to progress new face-matching services through the National Facial Biometric Matching Capability, announced by the Minister for Justice in September 2015. The services aim to improve agencies’ abilities to share and match facial images to detect and prevent the use of fraudulent identities, including by terrorists and organised crime.

This year the department:

  • completed the design and build of the central interoperability hub
  • undertook pilot activities with an initial set of Commonwealth agencies, ahead of the expected commencement of the face-matching services later in 2016
  • commissioned an independent privacy impact assessment on the design and operation of the hub. The Minister released this in December 2015, and the department accepted all recommendations, either in whole or in part.
  • continued work with the states and territories to enable their police and road agencies to participate in this national initiative
  • continued pilot activities with the Northern Territory Department of Transport.

Operating the Computer Emergency Response Team

Through the national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT Australia), the department provides cyber-threat information and operational cyber-security support to create a more secure digital economy.

CERT Australia enables information-sharing, security advice and incident reporting amongst its domestic and international partners. At the domestic level, CERT Australia’s business engagement efforts continued to flourish, with more than 500 partnerships in place by the end of 2015–16. We facilitated 10 Regional Information Exchanges and three National Information Exchanges throughout the year and responded to more than 14,445 incidents. We actively participated in the development of the Australian Government Cyber Security Strategy.

In September 2015, CERT Australia was elected as the Chair of Asia–Pacific CERT (AP CERT) through which we support and influence the development of stronger cyber-security across the Asia–Pacific region.

Maintaining an effective counter-terrorism capability nationally

As part of the Australian Government’s appropriation to the department for 2015–16, $11,463 million was provided to Australia–New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee to support the ongoing development and maintenance of Australia’s national counter-terrorism capability. A further $1.071 million was provided for counter-terrorism drill-style exercises and consumables.

Working with partner countries to counter terrorism

The establishment of the Australia–Indonesia Ministerial Council on Law and Security was a key achievement during 2015–16. The inaugural meeting, led by the Attorney-General and Minister for Justice, was held in Jakarta in December 2015 and the second meeting in Sydney in June 2016. This forum reinforces the strong relationships of our law, justice and security agencies to counter contemporary threats, including terrorism and enhance cyber–security.

The department continued to engage with law and justice agencies from key partner countries in the Indo–Pacific and Middle East to strengthen legal frameworks to counter terrorism. This work included supporting enhanced international crime cooperation to obtain and use foreign evidence in terrorism prosecutions and sharing information on our legislation, countering violent extremism programmes and interagency collaboration.

Countering violent extremism

The Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) Centre drives policy and programmes aimed at reducing the risk of home-grown terrorism. Funding for the Challenging Terrorist Propaganda in Australia Programme commenced in July 2015 ($21.7 million over four years). The CVE Centre:

  • established a social media insights team to deliver an ongoing research base to understand violent extremist messaging and its impact on Australian society
  • implemented a national intervention programme designed to prevent and divert individuals who are at risk of becoming (or already are) radicalised to violent extremism, through individually tailored case management plans
  • delivered a training module to support identification of potential intervention cases through leads assessment and triaging processes. More than 250 individuals were trained during the year.
  • engaged with community groups and partners to raise public awareness via targeted programmes.

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