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 About the department

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Our purpose is to achieve a just and secure society

This annual report is for the 2017–18 financial year, based on the structure and activities of the Attorney-General's Department as at 30 June 2018.

Our purpose is to achieve a just and secure society through the maintenance and improvement of Australia's law, justice, security and integrity frameworks.

Roles and functions

Our role is to make sure Australia is a country that is secure, safe and well-governed. We provide the best available advice and evidence to the Attorney-General in his role as the First Law Officer. We are adviser to the government on many issues including constitutional and international law matters, fraud and anti-corruption, the family law system and people's rights.

The department represents Australia in national and international law and justice matters and fora and makes sure Australia's place as a regional partner and leader is upheld.

There have been significant changes to the department's role and structure this year. On 18 July 2017, the Prime Minister announced ministerial and machinery-of-government changes to reform Australia's national intelligence and domestic security arrangements. This affected the Attorney-General's Department and portfolio agencies.

A number of functions have transferred to the Department of Home Affairs and some functions of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet have transferred to the Attorney-General's Department. This has resulted in some programs included in the 2017-18 Portfolio Budget Statements being transferred with the function.


As a result of the machinery-of-government changes, the structure of the department changed over the year from four operational groups to three. As at 30 June 2018, the operational groups that carry out the department's role are:

  • Australian Government Solicitor
  • Civil Justice and Corporate Services Group
  • Criminal Justice and National Security Group.

Organisation structure alternate text

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Ministerial responsibilities

As at 30 June 2018, the department's minister was the Hon Christian Porter MP. The Attorney-General's areas of responsibilities include:

  • law and justice:
    • administrative law
    • alternative dispute resolution
    • bankruptcy
    • constitutional law
    • courts and tribunals
    • human rights
    • international law
    • law reform
    • legal assistance
    • legislative drafting
    • marriage and family law
    • personal property securities
  • administration of criminal justice:
    • criminal law policy and principles of criminal responsibility
    • matters relating to prosecution
    • sentencing and management of federal offenders
    • international crime cooperation, including extradition and mutual assistance in criminal matters
  • administrative support for Royal Commissions and other inquiries
  • fraud and anti-corruption policy
  • freedom of information
  • legal services to the Commonwealth
  • management of government records
  • Native Title
  • privacy
  • protective security policy.

Ministerial website

About the portfolio

The department leads a portfolio that provides expert advice and services. As at 30 June 2018, the portfolio included the following agencies and statutory authorities:

  • Administrative Appeals Tribunal
  • Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity
  • Australian Financial Security Authority
  • Australian Human Rights Commission
  • Australian Law Reform Commission
  • Commonwealth Ombudsman
  • Federal Court of Australia
  • High Court of Australia
  • Independent National Security Legislation Monitor
  • Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security
  • National Archives of Australia
  • Office of the Australian Information Commissioner
  • Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Office of Parliamentary Counsel
  • Solicitor-General

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