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Australia's counter-terrorism laws

Effective laws are a critical component of Australia's response to threatened or actual terrorist acts.

Australia's counter-terrorism laws are shared between our department and the Department of Home Affairs. For the majority of counter-terrorism laws, the Department of Home Affairs has policy responsibility and our department has administrative responsibility.

Effective laws are a critical component of Australia's response to threatened or actual terrorist acts.

Australia's laws against terrorism are in Part 5.3 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Criminal Code).

Australia's laws against foreign incursions and recruitment are in Part 5.5 of the Criminal Code.

This department administers the Act.

Australia's counter-terrorism laws focus on:

Terrorist acts

A terrorist act is an act, or a threat to act, that meets both these criteria:

  • it intends to coerce or influence the public or any government by intimidation to advance a political, religious or ideological cause.
  • it causes one or more of the following:
    • death, serious harm or danger to a person
    • serious damage to property
    • a serious risk to the health or safety of the public
    • serious interference with, disruption to, or destruction of critical infrastructure such as a telecommunications or electricity network.

Advocating, protesting, dissenting or taking industrial action are not terrorist acts where the person doing the activity does not intend to cause serious harm to a person or create a serious risk to public safety.

Anyone guilty of committing a terrorist act could face up to life imprisonment.

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Role of the Australian Federal Police

The Australian Federal Police has specific responsibility to investigate and prevent crime including terrorism.

Contact details

The National Security Hotline is the single point of contact for the public to report possible signs of terrorism. Every piece of information is treated seriously, as it could be vital in preventing a terrorist act.

The hotline also provides information to callers on a wide range of national security matters.

If you see anything suspicious, report it to the National Security Hotline:

Call: 1800 123 400
From outside Australia: (+61) 1300 123 401
Email: hotline@nationalsecurity.gov.au
SMS: 0429 771 822
TTY: 1800 234 889