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About the department

Our purpose is to achieve a just and secure society

Roles and functions

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

The department provides legal services, including constitutional advice to government. We develop and implement policies and programs 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 and emergency-related matters and fora.

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


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

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

Organisation structure alternate text

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Ministerial responsibilities

As at 30 June 2017, the department had two ministers.

Senator the Hon George Brandis QC as Attorney-General is responsible for:

  • law and justice
  • national security
  • legal services
  • courts and tribunals
  • regulatory reform
  • management of government records.

The Hon Michael Keenan MP as Minister for Justice and the Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Counter-Terrorism is responsible for:

  • criminal law and law enforcement
  • Commonwealth emergency management
  • natural disaster relief, recovery and mitigation policy and financial assistance, including the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Payment and payments to the states and territories
  • protective security policy
  • counter-terrorism.

About the portfolio

The department leads a portfolio that provides expert advice and services. As at 30 June 2017, the portfolio was structured as follows:

  • Attorney-General's Department
  • 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