You are here: Skip breadcrumbAttorney-General's Department >> Publications >> Annual reports >> Annual report 2009-10 >> Annual Report 2009-10 Overview

 Annual Report 2009-10 Overview

Previous Page Next Page 

Letter of Transmittal

Australian Government - Attorney-General's Department Logo 

14 September 2010


Dear Attorney-General

Attorney-General's Department Annual Report 2009–10

In accordance with subsection 63(1) of the Public Service Act 1999, I am pleased to present the Annual Report of the Attorney-General's Department for the year ended 30 June 2010.

I certify that this report has been prepared in accordance with section 63 of the Act and the Requirements for Annual Reports for Departments, Executive Agencies and FMA Act Bodies endorsed by the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit in June 2010.

These requirements state that annual reports are required to be tabled in Parliament by 31 October 2010.

Signed Roger Wilkins AO

Roger Wilkins AO


Chapter 1 Secretary's review

The Attorney-General's Department plays an important national role in promoting and preserving the rule of law. Our work encompasses a broad range of national law and security policy issues that help achieve a just and secure society.

The Department's core role and activities underpin the priorities established by the government of the day. Our focus and direction for 2009–10 were established by the key priorities of:

  • embedding an all-hazards approach to national security
  • attacking the causes and outcomes of serious and organised crime
  • developing an holistic and user-focused system of justice that emphasises alternatives to litigation, particularly in the area of family law, and
  • reinvigorating the agenda for harmonising and simplifying laws.

We made considerable progress during 2009–10 toward realising these priorities and toward progressing a range of complementary initiatives. An area of particular focus has been to address long-term reform. Key among our achievements in this area were:

  • releasing the report A Strategic Framework for Access to Justice in the Federal Justice System and developing the Access to Justice website
  • implementing the National Partnership Agreement on Disaster Resilience to improve the quality and effectiveness of disaster mitigation arrangements
  • establishing the National Cybercrime Working Group to promote a nationally consistent approach to combating cybercrime
  • bringing together Australia's existing computer emergency response arrangements under a new national team, CERT Australia
  • establishing the National Emergency Management Committee as the peak Australian body for emergency management principles and practices
  • revising the national framework for bushfire alerts and advice
  • establishing the Location Based Number Store for telephone warnings to the community
  • conducting wide consultations on an R18+ classification for computer games following the recommendations of the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, and
  • supporting the development and launch of Australia's Human Rights Framework to reaffirm Australia's commitment to promoting awareness and understanding of human rights.

We also progressed several initiatives that align the Department's work with whole-of-government priorities, including:

  • supporting delivery of a draft Legal Profession National Law to the Council of Australian Governments and establishing the National Legal Profession Reform Taskforce, which I head, to develop uniform legislation to regulate the legal profession across Australia
  • facilitating passing of the Personal Property Securities Act 2009, which aligns with the Government's microeconomic reform agenda for Australia
  • leading development of the National Indigenous Law and Justice Framework, under a nationally-agreed approach, to tackle serious Indigenous law and justice issues as part of the Closing the Gap strategy, and
  • coordinating the Australian Government's involvement in the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission.

Enhanced collaboration with portfolio agencies was also a priority. For example, we developed the Commonwealth Organised Crime Strategic Framework, which coordinates a whole-of-government response to addressing the key threats posed by organised crime, in partnership with the law enforcement agencies in our portfolio.

Within the Department, we continued pursuing strategic reform through initiatives such as Future Focus, a program of strategic analysis designed to enhance staff understanding of the key drivers of change and generate ideas for our future work program.

As a Department we have aligned ourselves to take a more strategic approach by placing greater emphasis on the work of the Strategic Policy and Law Reform Branch. The Branch functions to drive cross-departmental and cross-portfolio work on high priority policy and law reform issues; strengthen strategic policy and budget coherence within the portfolio; and identify and develop strategic issues, opportunities and directions.

Looking to the year ahead, we will focus on building a strong and resilient Australia, one that is well placed to prevent, prepare for and recover from disaster within an all-hazards context. We will also strengthen the civil justice system, ensuring equitable access to justice and human rights protection for all Australians.

In achieving this, we will continue working closely and cooperatively with our portfolio agencies and strengthen our capacity to provide strategic policy.

The Department's achievements would not be possible without the consistent efforts of our staff, whom I commend for their professionalism and commitment to achieving our goals. The way we engage with our colleagues in portfolio agencies and others opens up many positive opportunities to continually refresh our vision of achieving a just and secure society for the benefit of the Australian community and our regional partners.


Chapter 2 2009–10 snapshot

Our role

The Attorney-General's Department serves the people of Australia by upholding the rule of law and providing essential expert support to the Australian Government in maintaining and improving Australia's system of law and justice, its national security and emergency management systems, natural disaster relief and administration of Commonwealth Territories.

Figure 1: Attorney-General's Department Mission and Outcomes structure, 2009–10

Figure 1: Attorney-General's Department Mission and Outcomes structure, 2009-10 

Our financial performance

The total annual appropriation funding for the Department for 2009–10 was $930.5 million, including $239.8 million for departmental outputs and $602.7 million for administered expenses (see Figure 2).

The Department also received appropriation funding of $8.4 million in equity injections for departmental capital projects, $25.0 million for administered assets and $18.1 million for special appropriations.

See Chapter 11 for information on the Department's financial performance.

Figure 2: Appropriations, 2009–10

Figure 2: Appropriations, 2009-10 

Our people

As at 30 June 2010, the Department's workforce comprised 1,554 employees. Of this workforce, 1,395 were ongoing employees, 118 were non-ongoing and 41 employees were employed on a casual basis; 91.7 per cent of employees were working full-time hours, and 8.3 per cent were working part-time hours.

The Department primarily operates from Canberra, where 93.5 per cent of the workforce is located. The remainder of the Department's staff work from Sydney, New South Wales (2.5 per cent); Victoria (2.4 per cent); regional locations throughout Australia (1 per cent); with the remainder of the workforce located in Papua New Guinea (0.6 per cent).

The Department employs a diverse workforce. The number of females in the Department accounts for 62.3 per cent of the workforce; this is slightly above the Australian Public Service average. The workforce age profile is comparatively younger than for other public service agencies; the bulk of the workforce is aged below 40 years.

The number of employees from non-English speaking backgrounds increased by 4.5 per cent on last year and now represents 8 per cent of the workforce. The Department experienced an increase in both the number of staff identifying as Indigenous to 1.3 per cent and people with disabilities to 1.5 per cent.

Employee turnover remained relatively stable in 2009–10, with 395 employees (ongoing and non-ongoing) ceasing employment, compared with 339 in the previous year. The average length of service for employees is 4.2 years. Of the 232 ongoing employees who ceased employment with the Department, 96 transferred to other Australian Public Service agencies on promotion or ongoing transfer.

Chapter 12 discusses management of the Department's human resources. A full staffing profile for the Department, excluding casual employees, is provided at Appendix 8.


  • The Access to Justice Taskforce released its report, A Strategic Framework for Access to Justice in the Federal Civil Justice System. The report's central recommendation was the Strategic Framework for Access to Justice, adopted by the Government in September 2009. The Access to Justice website is one of several initiatives developed to accord with the framework.
  • The 2010–11 Federal Budget allocated additional funding of $154 million over four years to legal aid, Indigenous legal services and community legal services. The increased funding will support a more strategic approach to service delivery, including an increased focus on early intervention services.
  • In January 2010, as part of the Australian Government Cyber Security Strategy, the Department brought together existing computer emergency response arrangements under a new national computer emergency response team. CERT Australia is the initial point of contact for cyber security incidents attacking Australian networks. It provides Australian citizens and businesses with information on protecting their information technology environment from cyber-based threats and vulnerabilities.
  • The Personal Property Securities Act 2009 received Royal Assent on 14 December 2009. The new Act will harmonise the laws relating to secured transactions involving personal property and provide a single national legal framework.
  • In accordance with recommendations from the 2008 Homeland and Border Security Review, the Department is developing a national Crisis Coordination Centre and Parliament House Briefing Room to centralise information and coordination during a crisis and improve the way the Prime Minister and Cabinet are briefed.
  • Australia's emergency management plans were activated a number of times during 2009–10. Emergency events in the region included a tsunami (Samoa) and an earthquake (West Sumatra). Nationally, more than $118 million was reimbursed to the States and Territories under the Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements for events including floods (north and mid-north coast New South Wales), dust storms (South Australia and New South Wales), a bushfire (Toodyay, Western Australia), and flooding associated with tropical cyclones Laurence, Neville, Olga, Paul and Ului.
  • On 15 June 2010, the Attorney-General and the Minister for Foreign Affairs released Australia's Framework for Law and Justice Engagement with the Pacific, which provides a high-level statement of principles and priorities to guide Australia's future engagement in the Pacific law and justice sector.
  • The Department led development of the Declaration to Cooperate in Combating Organised Crime, signed by the Attorneys General of the United States, Canada, New Zealand and Australia on 30 April 2010.
  • The Department led development of the Crimes Legislation Amendment (Sexual Offences Against Children) Act 2010, which represents a significant advance in preventing, investigating and prosecuting child sexual abuse, including abuse committed by Australians overseas and online.
  • During 2009–10, the Department's reform of disaster mitigation arrangements culminated in establishment of the Disaster Resilience Program. The Australian, State and Territory governments, through a National Partnership Agreement, manage this co-funded initiative. It operates under the Council of Australian Government's Intergovernmental Agreement on Federal Financial Relations.
  • The Department, in collaboration with Victoria and New South Wales, comprehensively trialled bushfire detection cameras. The effectiveness of different cameras was compared, as was their ability to accurately detect fires and their potential to be integrated into existing emergency management systems.
  • In December 2009, the Department released a discussion paper, Should the Australian National Classification Scheme include an R18+ classification for computer games? The paper attracted almost 60,000 submissions from the public.
  • In July 2009, the Attorney-General's International Pro Bono Advisory Group was established to promote and coordinate international pro bono work by Australia's legal profession, build effective partnerships in overseas capacity building and access to justice work, and identify linkages with the Australian Government's international development assistance programs.
  • The Department led development of the National Indigenous Law and Justice Framework, to which the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General agreed in November 2009. The framework forms a comprehensive response to the many issues that drive Indigenous disadvantage in law and justice.
  • The Disability (Access to Premises–Buildings) Standards 2010 were tabled in Parliament on 15 March 2010. They provide minimum national standards for accessibility requirements to enable dignified access to, and use of, buildings for people with disability. The Standards will begin operating on 1 May 2011 to align with anticipated changes to building law in each State and Territory. The Attorney-General also made complementary amendments to the Disability Standards for Accessible Public Transport, which were tabled in Parliament on 15 March 2010.
  • The Department led the legislative amendments in response to reviews of national security and counter-terrorism legislation, improved oversight capabilities and enhanced interoperability between national security agencies.
  • The Department reviewed the Ethiopia–Australia Intercountry Adoption Program and began implementing significant reforms, including discussions with a non-government organisation to implement development assistance projects in Ethiopia, renegotiating the Service Agreement with the Australian representative, and implementing a new fee structure.
  • The Department worked with the Department of Immigration and Citizenship to support the Christmas Island community during a substantial increase in the number of immigration detainees held on the Island during 2009–10. Support included increasing air service capacity; providing additional education, health and policing services; and implementing major capital works to upgrade the waste, water and power infrastructure.

Areas for improvement

  • The Department will continue working with the Office of Parliamentary Counsel and other government agencies to reduce the complexity of Commonwealth legislation.
  • It will continue identifying and promoting measures to improve access to justice and enable dispute prevention and resolution. This includes measures for better delivery of information and services, early intervention to prevent escalation, promotion and use of alternative dispute resolution, and effective operation of courts and tribunals so litigation costs are proportionate to the issues in dispute.
  • The Department and the Classification Board remain concerned about non-compliance with classification requirements, particularly by the adult entertainment industry. More work will be done with State and Territory law enforcement agencies and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service to strengthen cooperation and intelligence sharing about non-compliance.
  • The Department continues working with agencies to improve the reporting framework to achieve greater transparency and consistency of information about legal services expenditure.
  • The Department will continue working with agencies to improve whole-of-government consideration and cooperation on significant legal issues in support of the Attorney-General's role as First Law Officer of the Commonwealth.
  • In 2009–10, the Department began reviewing its grants program to identify opportunities for streamlining administration and improving grants management systems.
  • The Department will focus on strategic reforms to the exchange of vital law enforcement information between jurisdictions and with overseas partners. This will include improving the legislative framework that supports the National Criminal Investigation DNA Database to accentuate the contribution forensic evidence makes to law enforcement, while maintaining key privacy protections.
  • The Department, in consultation with relevant Australian Government agencies and State and Territory governments, is taking a strategic approach to cybercrime. The Standing Committee of Attorneys-General will establish a National Cybercrime Working Group to promote a nationally consistent approach to combating cybercrime.
  • The Department is rebuilding the ComLaw website to make it faster and smarter. This whole-of-government website is an online resource bringing the community low- or no-cost access to the law.

Chapter 3 About the portfolio

The Attorney-General's portfolio

The Attorney-General's Department leads a portfolio that provides expert advice and services on a range of law and justice issues to the Attorney-General, the Minister for Home Affairs and the Australian Government.

The portfolio encompasses a diverse range of responsibilities as listed below. By providing high quality and well coordinated portfolio-wide advice, the Attorney-General's Department and the portfolio contribute cooperatively to the Government's long-term reform agenda for a stronger, fairer and more secure Australia.

Portfolio ministers


The Hon Robert McClelland MP

The Hon Robert McClelland MP

  • Administrative law
  • Appointments
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Australian Security Intelligence Organisation
  • Bankruptcy law
  • Border Protection Sub-Committee of Cabinet
  • Copyright
  • Community legal services
  • Constitutional issues
  • Courts, tribunals and the judiciary
  • Cyber security
  • Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions
  • Electronic transactions regulation
  • Emergency Management Australia
  • Evidence Act
  • Family law, including marriage celebrants
  • Human rights
  • Identity security
  • Indigenous justice
  • Indigenous legal aid
  • Insolvency Trustee Service Australia
  • Intercountry adoption
  • International law
  • International Criminal Court
  • Law reform
  • Legal aid
  • Legal profession and legal services coordination
  • Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency Management—Emergency Management
  • National security and counter-terrorism
  • National Security Hotline
  • Native title
  • Office of Parliamentary Counsel
  • Organised crime
  • Portfolio Budget
  • Pro bono legal assistance
  • Protection of critical infrastructure and national information infrastructure
  • Protective security coordination
  • Royal Commissions
  • Standing Committee of Attorneys-General
  • Telecommunications interception
  • Tracking and listening devices

Minister for Home Affairs

The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP 

The Hon Brendan O'Connor MP

  • Airport physical security (to the extent that it is not the responsibility of the Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government)
  • Anti-money laundering strategy
  • Australian Crime Commission
  • Australian Customs and Border Protection Service
  • Australian Federal Police
  • Australian Institute of Criminology
  • Australian Protective Service, including Air Security Officers
  • Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)
  • Border protection
  • Border Protection Sub-Committee of Cabinet
  • Classification
  • Conference of Corrective Services Ministers
  • Criminal law
  • Criminology
  • Crime prevention
  • CrimTrac
  • Cybercrime
  • Drugs strategy
  • Extradition (to the extent that it is not concerned with terrorism, which is the responsibility of the Attorney-General)
  • Federal prisoners
  • Firearms
  • Forensics
  • Fraud policy
  • Intergovernmental Committee on the Australian Crime Commission
  • International Transfer of Prisoners Scheme
  • Juvenile diversion program
  • Ministerial Council on Drugs Strategy
  • Ministerial Council for Police and Emergency Management—Police
  • Mutual assistance (to the extent that it is not concerned with terrorism, which is the responsibility of the Attorney-General)
  • Police and police liaison
  • Proceeds of crime
  • Protective security
  • Remission of fines
  • Territories
  • Witness protection

Portfolio structure

The Attorney-General's Department leads the portfolio, which incorporates the 22 statutory and non-statutory bodies listed below. The portfolio includes the statutory office of the Solicitor-General, who is the Second Law Officer of the Commonwealth (the Attorney-General being the First Law Officer). The annual reporting requirements and arrangements for those portfolio elements which are not covered by this report are set out in Appendix 1.

The Attorney-General's Department is the central policy and coordinating element of the portfolio, providing leadership on issues critical to effective delivery of the portfolio's responsibilities. The Department implemented a new organisational structure in 2009–10 to strategically enhance its coordination and leadership roles across the portfolio. Continued focus has been placed on driving key cross-portfolio policy priorities, coordinating areas of priority work for ministers and Cabinet, and providing strategic leadership of the portfolio's Budget processes. The restructure has ensured a more efficient and responsive Department, which is better aligned to meet the Government's current and emerging priorities and assist Australia to engage effectively and innovatively in new challenges.

Portfolio agencies

Administrative Appeals Tribunal <http://www.aat.gov.au>

Australian Crime Commission <https://www.acic.gov.au/>

Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity <http://www.aclei.gov.au>

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service <http://www.customs.gov.au>

Australian Federal Police <http://www.afp.gov.au>

Australian Government Solicitor <http://www.ags.gov.au>

Australian Human Rights Commission <https://www.humanrights.gov.au/>

Australian Institute of Criminology <http://www.aic.gov.au>

Australian Law Reform Commission <http://www.alrc.gov.au>

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation <http://www.asio.gov.au>

Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) <http://www.austrac.gov.au>

Criminology Research Council <http://www.criminologyresearchcouncil.gov.au>

CrimTrac <http://www.crimtrac.gov.au>

Family Court of Australia <http://www.familycourt.gov.au>

Federal Court of Australia <http://www.fedcourt.gov.au>

Federal Magistrates Court of Australia <http://www.federalcircuitcourt.gov.au/wps/wcm/connect/fccweb/home>

High Court of Australia <http://www.hcourt.gov.au>

Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia <http://www.itsa.gov.au>

National Capital Authority <http://www.nationalcapital.gov.au>

National Native Title Tribunal <http://www.nntt.gov.au>

Office of the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions <http://www.cdpp.gov.au>

Office of Parliamentary Counsel <http://www.opc.gov.au>


Chapter 4 About the Department

What we do

The Attorney-General's Department serves the people of Australia by upholding the rule of law and providing essential expert support to the Australian Government in maintaining and improving Australia's system of law and justice, its national security and emergency management systems, natural disaster relief and administration of Commonwealth Territories.

The Department is the central policy and coordinating agency of the Attorney-General's portfolio, for which the Attorney-General and the Minister for Home Affairs are responsible. The Department provides support for the Australian Attorney-General in his role as First Law Officer.

The mission of the Attorney-General's Department is achieving a just and secure society. In pursuing this mission, the Department works towards achieving three outcomes:

  • Outcome 1: An equitable and accessible system of federal civil justice.
  • Outcome 2: Coordinated federal criminal justice, security and emergency management activity, for a safer Australia.
  • Outcome 3: Assisting regions to manage their own futures.

The Department's outcomes, programs and performance targets are set out each year in the Portfolio Budget Statements and the Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements. This Annual Report responds directly to the performance measures set out in these documents, giving a clear indication of the Department's intended and actual performance for the year.

Our organisational structure

The Attorney-General's Department is structured to be consistent with, and better support, the Government's current and emerging priorities and to provide high quality and well coordinated portfolio-wide advice to the Attorney-General and the Minister for Home Affairs.

The Department's structure is designed to deliver programs against the Portfolio outcomes, with:

  • Strategic Policy and Coordination Group—responsible for driving key cross-departmental and cross-portfolio initiatives; enlivening law reform; managing media and communication; departmental governance arrangements and business planning; coordinating the portfolio budget; and providing finance, property, human resource and information and communication technology services.
  • Civil Justice and Legal Services Group—responsible for programs against Outcome 1 An equitable and accessible system of federal civil justice, and programs against Outcome 3 Assisting regions to manage their own futures.
  • National Security and Criminal Justice Group—responsible for programs against Outcome 2 Coordinated federal criminal justice, security and emergency management activity, for a safer Australia.

The Department's organisational structure, as at 30 June 2010, is shown in Figure 3.

Figure 3: Organisational structure, at 30 June 2010

Figure 3: Organisational structure, at 30 June 2010 

Our functions

The functions of the divisions and offices in each of the three groups, as at 30 June 2010, are outlined below.

Strategic Policy and Coordination Group

The Priorities and Coordination Division focuses on whole-of-department initiatives, helps to drive key cross-portfolio policy priorities and advances the Government's strategic law reform agenda.

The Division coordinates areas of priority work for Ministers, including Cabinet, manages departmental support for the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General, provides expert advice on constitutional law reform, and oversees portfolio governance arrangements.

The Division also manages media and communication, provides freedom of information services to the Department, processes correspondence for the Attorney-General and the Minister for Home Affairs, and coordinates international travel services for departmental and ministerial staff.

In addition, the Division coordinates whole-of-government crisis communication. Particular emphasis is placed on implementing an all-hazards approach to national security threats, including serious and organised crime.

The Finance and Property Division provides financial management services to the Department. The Division's main responsibilities include:

  • providing strategic financial management advice and reporting to the Department's Executive including resource planning and allocation to meet strategic priorities and directions
  • providing strategic portfolio budget and financial advice to the Department's Executive and to agencies within the portfolio including managing strategic portfolio budget processes and documentation
  • providing external financial reporting to meet the Department's obligations including preparation of annual audited financial statements
  • providing advice, training and support to build financial management skills across the Department and to ensure compliance with financial, procurement, asset and grants management policies without compromising efficient and effective delivery of services, and including maintaining the Department's Chief Executive's Instructions and delegations
  • maintaining the Department's financial management information systems to provide effective and efficient financial and asset management systems and processes for divisions within the Department
  • processing accounts and managing cash, and
  • managing all of the Department's owned and leased premises, including lease negotiations, property management, liaison with owners and agents and related dispute resolution.

The People, Information and Technology Division provides support for the Department's strategic and operational activities, enabling business objectives through leadership in human resources, information technology, facilities management, departmental security, project management coordination, governance and business planning. In providing this support, the Division works closely with internal business areas to ensure services are aligned with departmental priorities.

The Division also provides library services, training, staff recruitment and development, communication, records management, risk management and business continuity services. In addition, the Division provides leadership across the portfolio in human resources and information technology matters.

The Division provides resources and infrastructure development services to whole-of-government secure information technology networks in line with the National Security Information Environment Roadmap.

Civil Justice and Legal Services Group

The Access to Justice Division has policy responsibility for administrative law, alternative dispute resolution, federal courts and tribunals, domestic and international family law, marriage law, intercountry adoption, evidence law, private international law, legislative instruments, and service and execution of process.

The Division provides advice to government on reviews of administrative decision making and access to justice, and has policy responsibility for services that help families resolve disputes outside the courts.

The Division also promotes international cooperation in civil legal procedure and family law matters and handles requests from foreign courts for assistance in these matters, including parental child abduction and access.

In addition, the Division administers the Marriage Celebrants Program, has national responsibility for Australia's intercountry adoption arrangements and provides support to the Administrative Review Council, the National Alternative Dispute Resolution Advisory Council and the Family Law Council.

The Civil Law Division is responsible for policy on Commonwealth legal services, copyright, classification, personal property securities; for supporting the Attorney-General in his role as First Law Officer, including administering the Legal Services Directions 2005; and for promoting use of Australian legal services internationally.

The Division provides secretariat assistance to the International Legal Services Advisory Council and advice to the Attorney-General on international legal services policy matters, and supports the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in international negotiations on intellectual property and e-commerce.

The Division is responsible for classification policy and operation, provides secretariat support to the Classification Board and the Classification Review Board, runs the Classification Liaison Scheme and provides classification training for industry and government.

The Division is also responsible for copyright policy, including the Commonwealth Copyright Administration, which licenses Crown copyright in published materials on behalf of Australian Government agencies and leads the whole-of-government approach to agencies' intellectual property management.

The Office of International Law provides legal advice and advocacy services on issues involving international law and is responsible for the conduct of international litigation. It helps develop and implement international law projects and undertakes international human rights report writing and complaints work. It helps negotiate treaties, including bilateral free trade agreements, and conduct international litigation, including for the World Trade Organization. The Trade Measures Review Officer, located within the Office of International Law, carries out the statutory function of reviewing decisions relating to anti-dumping and countervailing duties.

The Office of Legislative Drafting and Publishing has two main functions. Its primary, funded, role is to draft Regulations, Proclamations and Rules of Court. On a fee-for-service basis, it also drafts many other legislative and non-legislative instruments and advises government on related matters, with an emphasis on reducing complexity. Its secondary role is to publish all Australian Government legislation and related material, including some gazettes. Up to 30,000 people a day use the Office's website ComLaw <http://www.comlaw.gov.au>, which incorporates the authoritative Federal Register of Legislative Instruments.

The Social Inclusion Division is responsible for policy, legislation, advice and programs related to human rights, legal assistance, native title, and Indigenous law and justice. The Division provides policy leadership for the Department's contribution to the Government's broader agendas for social inclusion and closing the gap on Indigenous disadvantage. The Division's policies and programs actively contribute to achieving these agendas by:

  • promoting recognition of, and respect for, human rights
  • ensuring native title can deliver practical benefits and economic development outcomes for Indigenous Australians
  • promoting Indigenous family and community safety through prevention of violence and support for Indigenous Australians experiencing adverse contact with the justice system, and
  • ensuring appropriate services are available and accessible to help vulnerable and disadvantaged Australians resolve legal problems and disputes.

The Territories Division administers the non-self-governing Territories of Ashmore and Cartier Islands, Christmas Island, the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, the Coral Sea Islands and Jervis Bay. The Division is also responsible for managing the Australian Government's interests in the Australian Capital Territory, the Northern Territory and Norfolk Island.

The Division's role includes developing policy advice and legislation to maintain effective systems of governance; administering intergovernmental agreements; delivering State and local government-type services, including grant funding; and managing a capital works program to maintain, replace and modernise Territory infrastructure for which the Australian Government is responsible.

The underlying principle of service delivery, funding support and capital works is to ensure that communities in the Territories are provided with services and infrastructure comparable with those provided to equivalent State communities.

National Security and Criminal Justice Group

The Emergency Management Australia Division is responsible for emergency and disaster preparation, coordination of Australian Government crisis response and recovery efforts and coordination of protective security services for Australian high office holders, visiting foreign dignitaries and Australians attending major events in Australia and overseas. The Division manages its responsibilities by:

  • being the Australian Government's central crisis coordination resource
  • developing facilities for coordinating whole-of-government crisis management, including a dedicated 24/7 coordination capability
  • developing an all-hazards approach to national security that seeks to enable the Australian Government to make robust, informed decisions in national security emergencies
  • establishing and maintaining plans and arrangements for the continuity of executive government
  • partially reimbursing the States and Territories for expenditure on natural disaster relief and recovery measures
  • providing expert security advice and risk assessments, and coordinating delivery of protective security services
  • administering measures to protect national security information in court cases, and
  • participating in multi-agency, multijurisdictional exercises to test and enhance consequence management arrangements.

The Division coordinates Australian Government disaster assistance domestically on request from the States and Territories. In conjunction with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and AusAID, the Division also contributes emergency management expertise and physical assistance internationally.

The Criminal Justice Division provides national leadership and coordination on criminal law and law enforcement legal and policy issues to contribute to the security of the Australian community. This involves ensuring there is an appropriate criminal law and law enforcement legislative framework and that Commonwealth law enforcement portfolio agencies are operating effectively and in a coordinated manner. The Division focuses on serious and organised crime arising from development of the Organised Crime Framework, including improving the governance and operation of portfolio agencies that provide the operational component of the response to organised crime. The Division is also responsible for coordinating a national response to cyber crime, including through the National Cyber Crime Working Group established under the Standing Committee of Attorneys-General.

The Division is also responsible for ongoing work including administration of crime prevention grants programs, criminal law reform, illicit drugs policy, fraud against the Commonwealth, administration of firearms and tablet press importation permits and regulation, management of federal offenders serving custodial sentences and support of the anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regime.

The International Crime Cooperation Division is responsible for international cooperation in criminal matters and related policy issues and is Australia's central authority for extradition, mutual assistance in criminal matters, and international transfer of prisoners. The Division undertakes casework, negotiates international treaties dealing with these subjects, and develops and implements domestic legislative and policy proposals on international crime cooperation.

The Division also delivers capacity-building assistance to partner countries in our region and Africa to strengthen legal frameworks and processes to combat terrorism and transnational organised crimes including people smuggling, corruption and money laundering.

The Department's National Security Capability Development Division coordinates a wide range of counter-terrorism and emergency management capability activities and projects in conjunction with Australian, State and Territory government agencies and local government and industry bodies.

The Division supports the National Counter-Terrorism Committee's operational and policy programs; coordinates the committee's training, exercise, development and equipment procurement programs; manages the committee's Administered Fund; and provides executive and secretariat support to a number of its subcommittees and working groups.

The Division works with a range of national and international stakeholders to identify and address gaps in counter-terrorism and emergency management capability. A significant part of the Division's responsibilities involves managing the National Partnership Agreement on Natural Disaster Resilience and nationally significant projects designed to improve the capability of the emergency management sector.

The Division operates the Australian Emergency Management Institute (AEMI), which provides vocational education and training, community awareness and strategic research functions in support of national measures to mitigate, minimise or alleviate human suffering in the event of an emergency or disaster.

The Division is also the Australian Government provider of protective security training to Australian, State and Territory government agencies and government contractors.

The National Security Law and Policy Division administers and develops legislation and provides legal and policy advice for a broad range of national security issues, including counter-terrorism offences and telecommunications interception powers. The Division contributes to the development of a whole-of-government, all-hazards approach to national security issues, and identifies and responds to gaps in domestic national security policy.

Through AusCheck, the Division undertakes national security background checking on a full cost-recovery basis and maintains a database of applicants for aviation and maritime security identification cards, as well as officers working in sensitive health roles. AusCheck also undertakes personnel security vetting, on a budget-funded basis for the Attorney-General's Department and a fee-for-service basis for more than 90 Australian, State and Territory government agencies. This function will transfer to the Department of Defence on 1 October 2010.

The Division's Countering Violent Extremism taskforce focuses on building and supporting Australia's resilience, through programs aimed at shaping public attitudes on violent extremism, undermining terrorist propaganda, and supporting and diverting those at risk away from potentially violent extremism.

The National Security Resilience Policy Division executes lead agency functions across the Australian Government for cyber security, critical infrastructure protection, identity security, chemicals of security concern, protective security policy and emergency management policy.

The Division undertakes coordination for the following consultation bodies:

  • Cyber Security Policy and Coordination Committee for the Cyber Security Strategy
  • Protective Security Policy Committee for the Protective Security Framework
  • National Emergency Management Committee for the National Disaster Resilience Strategy
  • Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN) for Critical Infrastructure Resilience and the Business–Government Advisory Group on National Security for the Critical Infrastructure Resilience Strategy, and
  • National Identity Security Coordination Group for the National Identity Security Strategy.

The Division also provides policy support to Emergency Management Australia and the National Security Capability Development Division and manages the Critical Infrastructure Program for Modelling and Analysis (CIPMA), CERT Australia (Australia's national computer emergency response team) and the Document Verification System.

Nicole Thomson and Heike Herrling, Priorities and Coordination Division 

Nicole Thomson and Heike Herrling,
Priorities and Coordination Division

Our people

Looking ahead with Future Focus

collaborating across agencies to generate ideas

The Future Focus program is designed to facilitate analysis and debate of major drivers of policy change and their impacts for the Department.

The program began in mid-2009 and has examined the issues of safety and security, technological change and population change.

As Heike Herrling, a Legal Officer with the Strategic Policy and Law Reform Branch, which coordinates the program, explains, 'We hope Future Focus will encourage policy development that looks beyond an election or budget cycle, producing robust policy solutions flexible enough to respond to the challenges of today and tomorrow'.

While the program is primarily internal, valuable input has also come from the Department's portfolio agencies.

'We have been lucky to host participants from our portfolio agencies for specialised input on several occasions. This collaboration has been a great experience, teaching us there are many opportunities to tap into the expertise of our portfolio colleagues,' Heike said.

Future Focus also capitalises on our relationships with academia and non-government organisations, with the Department hosting interactive seminars in which academics and experienced practitioners can share their expertise and research.

The complexity of the issues can be challenging, but for Senior Legal Officer Nicole Thomson, the results are worth the effort.

'It can be difficult to get your head around the big picture and building an evidence base involves a lot of analytical research, with sometimes conflicting data. But this work is important because it challenges the status quo by testing what we are doing to keep Australia just and secure into the future,' Nicole said.

'We hope Future Focus will become a signature program for the Department, as we need to work at not only responding to, but anticipating, complex policy issues. The Australian people will be the ultimate beneficiaries of this program, as it will inform our advice to government decision makers for years to come.'

Previous Page Next Page