Australia’s National Counter-Terrorism Plan (Download)

Full unedited Australian National Security document below:





SBN: 978-1-922032-07-2

© Commonwealth of Australia 2012

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Preface. 5

Preparedness, Prevention, Response, Recovery. 5

Preparedness. 5

Legal and Administrative Framework. 6

Relevant Responsibilities. 6

National Coordination. 7

Commonwealth Government Coordination. 8

State and Territory Coordination. 9

National Terrorism Public Alert System.. 9

Communications. 10

Protective Security. 10

Prevention. 10

Intelligence. 10

Threat Assessment 11

Criminal Investigation. 11

Protection of the Community. 11

Public Awareness. 11

Border Control 12

Transport Security. 12

Aviation. 12

Maritime. 13

Surface Transport 13

Dignitary and Foreign Mission Protection. 13

Business and Community. 14

Being Aware and Vigilant 14

Staying Informed. 14

Countering Violent Extremism.. 14

Protecting our Major Events. 15

Critical Infrastructure Protection. 15

Regulation of Hazardous Material 16

Cyber Security. 16

Response. 17

Operational Arrangements. 17

Coordination Arrangements. 18

State and Territory Coordination. 18

Commonwealth Government Coordination. 18

Media Liaison. 19

Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Response. 19

Explosive Devices. 19

Postal Security. 20

Immediate Relief and Support 20

Recovery. 20

Roles and Responsibilities. 20

Operational Coordination Arrangements. 21

Commonwealth Level 21

State/Territory Level 21

Regional/District/ Local Level 21

Key Considerations. 23

National Counter-Terrorism Management Arrangements. 23

Glossary. 24

Annex A Agency roles. 26


  1. Terrorism remains a major security challenge for Australia. In recent years, a number of plots have been disrupted by the coordinated efforts of Australia’s security and law enforcement agencies, as well as our international partners. Terrorists and their methods are constantly evolving. Australia must be flexible and adaptable to changes in the global security environment. Australian governments are committed to strengthening the nation’s ability to understand and respond to terrorism and to ensuring that security, intelligence and law enforcement agencies are adequately resourced and prepared.
  2. The National Counter-Terrorism Plan (NCTP) sets out Australia’s strategic approach to preventing, and dealing with, acts of terrorism in Australia and its territories. It is the primary document on Australia’s national counter-terrorism policy and arrangements.
  3. The NCTP relies on strong cooperative, coordinated and consultative relationships between Australian governments and their agencies. Acts of terrorism in Australia and its territories will be responded to by these bodies acting in cooperation with defined responsibilities and authority.
  4. The NCTP is supported by documentation, including a handbook that sets out in detail procedures, structures and coordination arrangements necessary to ensure the prevention, response, investigation and management of the consequences of terrorism on a national basis. The NCTP will be updated by the National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NCTC) as required.
  5. Public confidence in the ability of all jurisdictions to deal with the threat of terrorism is important. The national counter-terrorism arrangements provide wide ranging and extensive communication and media strategies to ensure effective and timely provision of accurate information to the public.
  6. The NCTP does not cover arrangements that deal with terrorist acts overseas involving Australians or Australian interests. The Commonwealth Government’s response will be coordinated by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT), although elements of the NCTP may be utilised in that response.

Preparedness, Prevention, Response, Recovery

  1. Australia’s strategic approach to terrorism recognises the need to prepare for, prevent, respond to, and recover (PPRR) from a terrorist act. The PPRR concept acknowledges that these activities will overlap and that elements of PPRR will often occur concurrently.4


  1. Preparedness refers to the process of planning, resourcing and testing to ensure governments, agencies and the community are best able to prevent or deal with the impacts of a terrorist act.
  2. Preparedness measures include the development, testing and review of counter-terrorism plans.
  3. A key aspect of preparedness is the definition, development and maintenance of the capabilities required by agencies and personnel. This includes the acquisition of relevant equipment and the development of specialist skills.
  4. Interoperability between agencies and jurisdictions is vitally important. Consequently, plans are consistent, complementary and coordinated, and capability development is standardised.
  5. Preparedness emphasises the value of exercising and testing. Enhancements and adjustments are made based on the results of that testing and in response to any changes in the threat environment. Exercising is important in practising arrangements, and command and coordination structures.
  6. The public and industry have critical roles in achieving appropriate levels of preparedness and it is incumbent on governments and their responsible agencies to keep them informed and ensure they are effectively engaged.

Legal and Administrative Framework

  1. Terrorism is, first and foremost, a crime. Australia has established a criminal offence regime to maximise the potential for preventive actions.
  2. Central to this regime is a clear definition of a terrorist act. In summary, a ‘terrorist act’ is an action or threat intended to advance a political, ideological or religious cause by coercing or intimidating an Australian or foreign government or the public, by causing serious harm to people or property, endangering life, creating a serious risk to the health and safety of the public or seriously disrupting trade, critical infrastructure or electronic systems. For more information, refer to the Criminal Code Act 1995 [Australian] (Part5.3). Excluded from the definition is non-violent protest or industrial action.
  3. Built around this definition is a set of terrorism offences, including the penalties for preparatory and support activities.
  4. A single set of offences, and a move to adopt consistent investigative powers, will allow Australian police to investigate terrorism under the one system. This supports, where necessary, multi-agency and multi-jurisdictional investigations.
  5. To ensure there is a balance between national security requirements, the rights of suspects and the public interest, governments have enacted a range of legislative provisions which provide effective counter-terrorism specific measures.
  6. A variety of oversight measures, including the requirement for judicial authorisation of some powers and regular legislative reviews are in place. 5

Relevant Responsibilities

  1. The Commonwealth Government:
  • maintains counter-terrorism capabilities within the Commonwealth agencies listed in Annex A;
  • maintains national counter-terrorism related policies, legislation and plans, including the Counter-Terrorism White Paper, International Counter-Terrorism Handbook and issues a regular national security statement to Parliament;
  • determines Commonwealth Government prevention strategies and Commonwealth Government operational responses to threats;
  • supports the States and Territories in responding to terrorism within their jurisdictions;
  • leads the coordination of intelligence;
  • determines and promulgates the National Terrorism Public Alert in close consultation with affected States or Territories;
  • in a national terrorist situation, determines policy and broad strategies in close consultation with affected States or Territories;
  • may provide financial and other support for recovery; and
  • provides whole of government coordination of cyber security including in relation to cyber security policy and incident response.
  1. The State and Territory Governments:
  • have primary responsibility for the operational response to a terrorist incident in their jurisdiction;
  • maintain counter-terrorism related policies, legislation and plans within their jurisdictions;
  • maintain counter-terrorism and recovery coordination capabilities in the agencies listed in Annex A;
  • determine prevention strategies and operational responses;
  • may seek assistance from, or provide assistance to, other jurisdictions; and
  • in a national terrorist situation, contribute to the national strategy.
  1. The Commonwealth Government and State and Territory Governments and their agencies have a responsibility for preventing terrorist acts.
  2. Within this inter-governmental framework, the following bodies have significant responsibilities for strategic-level coordination of counter-terrorism policy and related security response.

National Coordination

The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) is chaired by the Prime Minister. It comprises State Premiers, Territory Chief Ministers and the President of the Australian Local Government Association and is Australia’s peak inter-governmental forum. COAG’s role is to increase cooperation among governments in the national interest, including in relation to counter-terrorism.

The National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NCTC) is co-chaired by the Deputy National Security Adviser and a State or Territory official. It comprises senior representation from relevant Commonwealth Government agencies, First Ministers’ departments and police services from each jurisdiction. The NCTC is a non-operational body established by the Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) on Australia’s National Counter-Terrorism Arrangements to:

  • provide strategic and policy advice to heads of government and relevant ministers;
  • coordinate an effective nation-wide counter-terrorism capability;
  • maintain effective arrangements for sharing appropriate intelligence and information between all relevant agencies in all jurisdictions;
  • provide advice in relation to the administration of NCTC funds; and 6
  • maintain the NCTP and associated documentation.

The National Crisis Committee (NCC) is chaired by the National Security Adviser (NSA) or Deputy and comprises senior officials from Commonwealth and State and Territory governments. It would be convened in the event of a terrorist act to coordinate information exchange regarding response and recovery within the Commonwealth Government and with the States and Territories.

The Australian Government Crisis Coordination Centre (CCC) is a dedicated, whole of government, coordination facility that operates on a 24/7 basis within Emergency Management Australia (EMA), a division of the Commonwealth Government Attorney-General’s Department (AGD). The CCC channels communications between the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments. During a terrorist act the CCC will provide authoritative reports to jurisdictions in the form of situation reports.

Police coordination occurs through consultation between all Commissioners of Police to determine the national police response to terrorism, including any resulting investigation.

Emergency management coordination occurs through consultation between the affected jurisdiction(s) and EMA, as the agency responsible for coordinating Commonwealth response, recovery and consequence management support to the affected jurisdiction(s).

Health coordination occurs through the Australian Health Protection Committee (AHPC) which comprises the Australian Chief Medical Officer, State and Territory Chief Health/Medical Officers as well as EMA and the Department of Defence (Defence).

Transport security coordination is managed by the Security Standing Sub-Committee (Security SSC) of the Standing Committee on Transport. The Security SSC is a forum for Commonwealth and State and Territory governments to coordinate transport security arrangements and improve the preventive security of Australia’s transport system.

Security intelligence relating to terrorism is coordinated by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO). All governments contribute through their respective intelligence gathering resources. In the event of a terrorist act, ASIO would coordinate security intelligence relevant to the act.

Commonwealth Government Coordination

National Security Committee of Cabinet (NSC) focuses on major international security issues of strategic importance to Australia, national responses to developing situations (either domestic or international) and classified matters relating to aspects of operations and activities of the Australian Intelligence Community. It is the focal point of decision-making on national security issues and determines policy, strategy and resources relevant to Australian national security interests and responsibilities. Meetings are chaired by the Prime Minister and would occur as often as needed.

Secretaries Committee on National Security (SCNS) supports the NSC for strategic policy related matters and comprises the heads of agencies engaged in national security issues. SCNS meetings are chaired by the Secretary of the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C).

The National Security Adviser (NSA): the NSA’s role is to improve strategic direction within the national security community and to support the coordination of policy development and crisis response.

Australian Government Crisis Committee (AGCC) is a coordination body comprised of senior officials from Australian Government agencies convened by the NSA and chaired by the Deputy National Security Adviser (DNSA). The AGCC may convene in response to any crisis, including a terrorist act, where the scope and resourcing of Commonwealth Government support to States and Territories requires senior officials’ level coordination. The purpose of the AGCC is to ensure effective coordination of information, intelligence and response options to support the NSC. 7

The AGCC does not extend to managing the deployment of resources or other activities of operational agencies.

Interdepartmental Emergency Task Force (IDETF), chaired by DFAT (or co-chaired with the NSA), manages the whole of government response to a terrorist incident that has affected, or threatens to affect, Australians or Australian interests abroad.

Australian Government Disaster Recovery Committee (AGDRC), chaired by a senior official from the AGD, provides advice on and coordinates the implementation of tailored disaster recovery assistance measures to help Australians following disasters onshore and offshore across all hazards.

National Security Policy Coordination Group (NSPCG), chaired by the DNSA, assists in developing new whole of government approaches to national security policy issues, including counter-terrorism policy. The NSPCG membership is drawn from those agencies with an enduring central interest in national security issues including the Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID), the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS), the Australian Crime Commission (ACC), the Australian Federal Police (AFP), AGD, ASIO, DFAT, Defence, the Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC), the Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DoIT) and PM&C.

State and Territory Coordination

State and Territory security coordination bodies comprising senior officials and/or ministers who determine strategic policy during a terrorist act. Outside of a terrorist act the same or similar body determines State or Territory whole of government counter-terrorism policies and arrangements.

State or Territory Crisis Centre (SCC/TCC) is established by a State or Territory when a terrorist act occurs to centralise information, support government decision making and coordinate inter-jurisdictional assistance. The SCC/TCC will also coordinate public information arrangements with other States/Territories and the Commonwealth Government.

National Terrorism Public Alert System

  1. The National Terrorism Public Alert System consists of four stages:
  • low terrorist attack is not expected;
  • medium terrorist attack could occur;
  • high terrorist attack is likely; and
  • extreme terrorist attack is imminent or has occurred.
  1. A change to the National Terrorism Public Alert system may be considered when the situation is such that it is necessary to adjust community or business/industry sector vigilance or preparedness.
  2. The National Terrorism Public Alert System may be applied as outlined below:
  • National – guides national preparation and planning and assists in informing the precautions and vigilance to minimise the risk of a terrorist act occurring. It is also the basis of public discussion of the general risk of the terrorist threat to Australia.
  • Jurisdiction – Where a terrorist act or threat occurs within one or more jurisdictions, the alert may be raised or lowered for the impacted jurisdiction(s) while the National Terrorism Public Alert remains unchanged.
  • Sector – Where a terrorist act or threat occurs within a business or industry sector, the alert may be raised or lowered for the impacted sector(s) while the National Terrorism Public Alert may remain unchanged.
  • Geographic Location – Where a single terrorist act or threat occurs at a specifically definable geographic location, the alert may be raised for that location while the National Terrorism Public Alert may remain unchanged.
  1. AGD reviews the National Terrorism Public Alert in close consultation with States and Territories, based on ASIO assessments of the threat environment, operational investigations and local intelligence. Any recommendation to change the National Terrorism Public Alert requires the agreement of the relevant Commonwealth Government ministers including, wherever practicable, the NSC. Any such recommendations would be based on the advice of the NCC in consultation with the relevant State or Territory government(s).
  2. Jurisdictions use relevant intelligence information, the National Terrorism Public Alert and risk assessment to determine the appropriate security responses for specific sectors, events or individuals within their jurisdictions.


  1. A secure national communications network facilitates the flow of classified information between agencies to assist in preparedness, prevention, response and recovery. Use of the network is subject to memoranda of understanding between the Commonwealth Government and the State and Territory governments.

Protective Security

  1. Commonwealth Government and State and Territory agencies which access the secure communications network under the memoranda of understanding are responsible for ensuring that the appropriate standards for the transmission, storage and handling of security classified material, outlined in the Australian Government Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF), are maintained at all times. The PSPF is available at


  1. Prevention refers to measures taken to eliminate or reduce the occurrence or severity of a terrorist act. This is achieved through the collection, analysis and dissemination of intelligence; the conduct of investigations by law enforcement and security agencies; the implementation of strategies to engage and protect the community and potential terrorist targets; and the disruption of a terrorist act.


  1. Australia’s approach to counter-terrorism relies upon a strong intelligence-led framework. This encompasses preparedness and prevention measures, based on risk management principles, and the maintenance of capabilities to manage terrorist acts and their consequences.
  2. As Australia confronts an evolving and increasingly complex national security environment, the importance of timely and accurate intelligence to inform our responses to challenges will increase. Intelligence is information that provides insight and advantage. Intelligence is collected and developed in many forms by agencies across the Australian national security community including, but not limited to, the agencies of the Australian Intelligence Community and State and Territory police. Numerous agencies use this intelligence to identify emerging threats and determine operational or policy responses.

The National Intelligence Coordination Committee (NICC)

The NICC provides a senior mechanism for whole of government strategic coordination of national intelligence efforts across the Commonwealth Government’s National Intelligence Community and law enforcement agencies. Meetings are chaired by the NSA. 9

The Counter-Terrorism Control Centre (CTCC)

The multi-agency CTCC in the ASIO sets and manages whole of government counter-terrorism priorities, identifies intelligence requirements, and ensures that the processes of collecting and distributing counter-terrorism information are fully harmonised and effective across the spectrum of Australia’s counter-terrorism activity. The CTCC supports the established roles of federal and state law enforcement authorities. It is the key Commonwealth body for evaluating and integrating counter-terrorism intelligence.

  1. Law enforcement agencies and ASIO share counter-terrorism intelligence. ASIO provides the primary interface between other Commonwealth Government intelligence agencies and the States and Territories.
  2. The Australian Intelligence Community and the AFP maintain overseas liaison channels to gather intelligence and to pursue investigations. ASIO also maintains a 24 hour monitoring and alert unit. Relevant Commonwealth agencies provide the interface with overseas security, intelligence and police agencies as part of international counter-terrorism efforts.

Threat Assessment

  1. The National Threat Assessment Centre (NTAC), located within ASIO, prepares assessments of the likelihood and probable nature of terrorism and protest violence, including against Australia, Australians and Australian interests here and abroad, special events and international interests in Australia. Threat Assessments support jurisdictions and agencies to make risk management decisions to determine how best to respond to the threat and mitigate risk.
  2. State and Territory Police manage ongoing threat information at the tactical and operational level. Tactical risk assessments are produced by State and Territory Police to support operational risk management principles.

Criminal Investigation

  1. The prevention of terrorism involves using various methodologies to identify suspects and activities of potential concern. Police maintain investigative capabilities to detect and prevent terrorism related activity and to collect evidence that may be used in prosecutions for terrorism and terrorism-related offences.
  2. Agreements between Police Commissioners and the heads of intelligence agencies provide a nationally consistent governance framework for the strategic management of counter-terrorism operations.
  3. Joint Counter-Terrorism Teams (JCTT) are established in each State and Territory and comprise AFP, State and Territory law enforcement and ASIO. The JCTT provide a coordinated and consistent approach to combating terrorism.

Protection of the Community

Public Awareness

  1. Relevant State or Territory authorities may issue public messages specific to their responsibilities. A national public announcement may be issued at the discretion of the Prime Minister, Commonwealth Government Attorney-General or other senior Commonwealth Government minister. Such announcements will be issued after notification to the States and Territories so that they are able to respond effectively to the announcement and manage any community concerns.
  2. Similarly, information on any precautionary activities likely to come to public attention will be shared between relevant agencies prior to deployment to ensure that public and media inquiries are met with clear and consistent information.
  3. The Prime Minister or the Attorney-General will be the primary source of media comment from the Commonwealth Government. Premiers and Chief Ministers or their designated spokespersons will perform this role for the States and Territories. Coordination and consultation is conducted in accordance with the National Security Public Information Guidelines. These guidelines are available at

Border Control

  1. DIAC assists counter-terrorism efforts by ensuring that all non-citizens seeking visas, passage and entry to Australia are checked against the Central Movement Alert List (CMAL) of known individuals or profiles of security concern. DIAC manages the CMAL and associated systems, and assists counter-terrorism investigations as required.
  2. The ACBPS monitor the entry and exit of vessels, aircraft, goods and people including in support of counter-terrorism activities. ACBPS performs the primary immigration function at air and sea ports and maintains an alert list of persons of security or law enforcement interest.

Transport Security

  1. The Office of Transport Security (OTS) is a division within the DoIT. It regulates the provision of preventative security measures by private operators in the aviation, maritime, offshore oil and gas, and air freight sectors to mitigate the threats from unlawful acts of terrorism. OTS coordinates national transport security policy and provides advice on the impact of security developments on the transport industry. Regulations cover security programs at designated airports and airlines, as well as maritime industry participants such as port operators, port facility operators, ship operators and port services providers. OTS may also provide coordinated preventative security advice regarding forms of transport (such as mass urban transit and other road and rail passenger and freight transport) to responsible State and Territory authorities. OTS also provides strategic transport security threat information to industry to guide risk management and security plans.


  1. The Aviation Transport Security Act 2004 (Cth) (ATSA), administered by the DoIT, establishes a regulatory framework to safeguard against acts of unlawful interference with aviation, in respect of Australian registered aircraft in Australian airspace and airports. The ATSA also establishes a regulatory framework for industry participants who may handle, prepare or transport air cargo at locations on airports or remotely from airports.
  2. Security at Australian airports is the responsibility of the airport operator. For those airports the Secretary of the DoIT has declared to be security controlled airports under the ATSA, the operator is required to prepare a Transport Security Program (TSP). These declared airports must comply with their approved TSP and the Aviation Transport Security Act and Regulations. ATSA makes provision for Aviation Security Inspectors to issue specific directions to aircraft which are not in flight to ensure their compliance with the legislation. It also provides for action by the Secretary or his delegate to take specific measures to address special circumstances or aviation security incidents.
  3. At selected airports the AFP will provide initial response pending State or Territory police attendance. The AFP also operates the Air Security Officer program, which places officers on selected flights to counter terrorist threats. Relevant airport operators maintain Airport Security Incident Support Teams to provide logistical assistance to Police Commanders.
  4. The AFP Regional Rapid Deployment Teams (RRDT) are based at selected major metropolitan airports to undertake threat based and pre-planned deployments to regional airports consistent with jurisdictional arrangements. The RRDTs work closely with the aviation industry and police.


  1. The Commonwealth Government has direct responsibility for offshore maritime counter-terrorism prevention and response (that is seaward of the Territorial Sea Baseline), including the protection of oil and gas facilities and the interdiction of ships. Responsibility for counter-terrorism prevention and response in relation to areas or facilities of national security significance that are landward of the Territorial Sea Baseline, with the exception of ports, may be subject to formal agreements between the Commonwealth Government and the relevant jurisdiction, with a view to the Commonwealth Government assuming responsibility for counter-terrorism prevention and response in relation to these areas or facilities.
  2. The Commonwealth Government regulates the security arrangements of Australian ports, port facilities, ships and offshore oil and gas facilities through the Maritime Transport and Offshore Facilities Security Act 2003 (Cth), administered by the DoIT. States and the Northern Territory are responsible for counter-terrorism incident response and security arrangements within port limits.
  3. Border Protection Command (BPC) is the lead agency with respect to offshore maritime security. The Commander BPC has joint command responsibilities, being accountable to the Chief Executive Officer of ACBPS for its civil surveillance and regulatory functions and the Chief of the Defence Force for its military offshore maritime protection functions. 12

Surface Transport

  1. Surface transport security cooperation, particularly in prevention and preparedness, is guided by an IGA on Surface Transport Security under which the States and Territories have primary carriage of surface transport security issues. The agreement stipulates that States and Territories are to determine security identified surface transport operations. This action includes security risk assessment and security planning that takes into account the National Terrorism Public Alert.

Dignitary and Foreign Mission Protection

  1. AGD coordinates the protection of Australian high office holders, foreign diplomatic and consular staff and premises, internationally protected persons and other international dignitaries. AGD, in consultation with relevant agencies, determines a risk management strategy based on the Threat Assessment, the capabilities of protection providers and the interests of affected parties.
  2. The AFP and State and Territory police services share responsibility for the security of Australian high office holders, diplomatic and consular officials, visiting dignitaries, internationally protected persons and other individuals assessed to be at risk. The AFP provides close personal protection teams to the Prime Minister, Governor-General, diplomats and other individuals as required, supported by State and Territory resources. State and Territory police also have responsibility for protecting resident members of the consular corps and those foreign dignitaries and resident members of the consular corps assessed as being at threat, assisted as required by AFP Security Liaison Officers.

Business and Community

  1. While the NCTP predominantly outlines national arrangements, countering terrorism cannot be done in isolation by governments. Business and the community have important roles to play within these arrangements.

Being Aware and Vigilant

  1. Reporting suspicious behaviours is vital. Every piece of information received by authorities today could be invaluable in keeping Australia safe from terrorism tomorrow. Often the smallest details make the biggest difference.
  2. The National Security Hotline (1800 123 400) allows business and the community to report possible terrorist activities to the appropriate authorities 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Staying Informed

  1. Business and the community can further assist in Australia’s preparedness, prevention, response and recovery efforts through staying informed and being aware of the national counter-terrorism arrangements through publicly available information such as in this NCTP and on the national security website
  2. Monitoring public announcements during a terrorism act or threat will ensure business and the community are fully aware of what is required of them and will assist in the management of the situation.
  3. A key tool in staying informed is the National Terrorism Public Alert System.

Countering Violent Extremism

  1. Countering violent extremism (CVE) is an integral component of Australia’s counter-terrorism prevention strategies. 1
  2. The effective prevention of violent extremism involves combining an appropriate security and law enforcement response with broader strategies to enhance resilience to, and lessen the appeal of, violent extremist influences.
  3. CVE is a national challenge requiring a national response, recognising that strong partnerships between all levels of government are critical to success. Solutions must be locally appropriate and implemented with the active support of local communities. Coordination at a national level is imperative to reduce duplication of effort and to facilitate sharing of best practice.
  4. To ensure national coordination, Australian governments have established a CVE Sub-Committee under the NCTC consisting of representatives from all jurisdictions to share information, develop initiatives that are locally appropriate, and work collaboratively to counter violent extremism.

Protecting our Major Events

  1. Large gatherings of people present opportunities for terrorists.
  2. Organisers of such events are encouraged to consider terrorism as part of their initial risk assessment process and to discuss security arrangements with relevant State and Territory authorities early in the event planning process.
  3. Support may be provided on the basis of assessed threat. This will be coordinated, in the first instance, by the State or Territory police and will include Commonwealth Government agencies if required.
  4. The National Approach for the Protection of Places of Mass Gathering from Terrorism is available at

Critical Infrastructure Protection

  1. The protection of critical infrastructure is a shared responsibility between the owners and operators of the infrastructure and the Commonwealth, State and Territory governments. An intelligence-led, risk informed approach is required to develop adequate levels of protective security for Australia’s critical infrastructure, minimal single points of failure, and rapid, tested recovery arrangements.
  2. The Commonwealth Government is responsible for identifying critical infrastructure of national importance and maintaining a database on nationally significant critical infrastructure. In addition, the Commonwealth Government ensures the protection of its own assets and that protective arrangements are in place for Commonwealth Government security regulated sectors of industry. The Commonwealth, State and Territory governments coordinate their arrangements, including those for passing relevant threat information to appropriate sectors and infrastructure operators. State and Territory police are responsible for processing that information and disseminating the intelligence. The information is shared laterally with other State and Territory jurisdictions and is provided to relevant Commonwealth Government agencies.
  3. State and Territory governments identify critical infrastructure within their jurisdiction and are responsible for establishing arrangements to ensure or encourage the implementation of appropriate protective security. These processes will complement risk management strategies, business continuity plans and emergency response plans that operators of infrastructure should maintain in accordance with good governance. 14
  4. Owners/operators of critical infrastructure are ultimately responsible for determining and discharging their own legal obligations and managing risks to their operations that might have a material, financial, legal or reputational impact on the organisation, or harm staff, customers or other parties. Owners/operators should do this through appropriate risk management practice including the development and review of business continuity plans, and the provision of adequate security for their assets.
  5. Critical infrastructure protection is supported through a range of inter-governmental and business-government consultative mechanisms. The National Critical Infrastructure Resilience Committee (NCIRC) operates as a forum for national dialogue and collaboration on critical infrastructure resilience issues from an ‘all hazards’ perspective. The Commonwealth Government supports critical infrastructure resilience through the Trusted Information Sharing Network (TISN), for Critical Infrastructure Resilience and Critical Infrastructure Advisory Council (CIAC).
  6. The Guidelines for the Protection of Critical Infrastructure from Terrorism are available at

Regulation of Hazardous Material

  1. The regulation of hazardous materials to prevent their use for terrorism purposes is a joint responsibility of States, Territories and the Commonwealth.
  2. A series of reviews regarding the security of sensitive chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials was initiated by COAG in 2002. These considered the regulation, reporting and security surrounding the storage, sale and handling of hazardous materials aimed to assist counter-terrorism efforts by limiting opportunities for, and enhancing detection of, the illegal/unauthorised use of hazardous materials (the counter-terrorism objective). The ongoing implementation of the Review’s recommendations has improved Australia’s regulation, monitoring, control and education systems concerning such materials.
  3. The IGA on Australia’s National Arrangements for the Management of Security Risks Associated with Chemicals established the Chemical Security Management Framework (Framework), which outlines the agreed approach of Australian governments to prevent the use of chemicals for terrorist purposes. Under the Framework, the Commonwealth Government together with the States and Territories and industry has developed a risk assessment methodology and is conducting chemical security risk assessments for each chemical of security concern and then developing measures that industry can put in place to reduce the likelihood of their use for terrorist purposes. Awareness raising activities for the community and for industry of the risks posed by chemicals of security concern forms a third component of the Framework. More information is available at
  4. A national regulatory scheme to control biological agents of security concern is managed by the Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA). The scheme is built around a tiered list of Security Sensitive Biological Agents and requires entities and facilities to comply with a range of control and reporting requirements.
  5. The security of radiological materials is a joint responsibility of State, Territory and Commonwealth agencies. Regulation of radiological materials for security purposes is complemented by agencies responsible for the safety of these materials.
  6. The Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office (ASNO) regulates nuclear materials, technology and facilities to meet international non-proliferation and security obligations. 15

Cyber Security

  1. The Commonwealth, State and Territory governments work cooperatively with international partners, and with owners and operators of critical communications infrastructure to ensure Australia is well placed to respond to cyber security threats. Integral to this approach are two supporting organisations: Australia’s national Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT Australia) and the Cyber Security Operations Centre (CSOC).


  1. Response refers to actions taken immediately to prevent or minimise loss of life, injury, damage to property and damage or disruption to infrastructure; facilitate investigations into the terrorist act, including the prosecution of offenders; and ensure that people affected by the threat or act are given immediate relief and support.
  2. The ramifications of any terrorist act will necessitate high level decision-making within the government. The scale or complexity of the act may also dictate special cooperative responses. The primary goals of the response are to minimise loss of life, damage to property, preventing further incidents and aid recovery.
  3. State and Territory governments and their agencies have primary responsibility for the operational response to a terrorist incident in their jurisdiction. The Commonwealth Government will support the affected State or Territory as appropriate.

Operational Arrangements

  1. Police and other emergency services will respond first to any incident(s), which may subsequently be identified as the result of a terrorist act. As soon as there is a reasonable suspicion that the incident is terrorism related, police will assume control and notify the CCC.
  2. In response to an incident that could be a terrorist act, a major investigation will be initiated. Agencies will collaborate to implement an agreed reporting framework and investigative structures and disciplines as required by the circumstances. A Senior Investigating Officer (SIO) will be appointed to lead, manage, direct and coordinate all aspects of the investigation.
  3. Other response agency managers will take police operational requirements into account when protecting public health and safety, restoring essential services and providing emergency relief to individuals. Police Commanders and other consequence managers will also consider the requirements of recovery support agencies.
  4. A Joint Intelligence Group (JIG) will be established by the affected State/Territory to provide all possible intelligence support to operational commanders and will include relevant Commonwealth agency liaison officers.
  5. ASIO and the AFP provide a Commonwealth Technical Response Capability (CTRC) to support forward police and ADF commanders by providing specialist technical surveillance collection at the scene of a terrorist incident. The scale and nature of the CTRC response is determined by the specific incident and the CTRC operates in support of the local police technical unit.
  6. Australia’s policy is, wherever possible and appropriate, to resolve terrorist acts through negotiation to minimise the risk to life. Australia will not make concessions in response to terrorist demands. Police will maintain a cadre of trained negotiators and a containment and deliberate/emergency action capability. Defence also maintains containment and deliberate/emergency action capability. 16
  7. Defence maintains capabilities to assist civil authorities in emergencies under Defence Assistance to the Civil Community (DACC) arrangements and Defence Force Aid to Civilian Authorities (DFACA) (Part IIIAAA of the Defence Act 1903). DACC and DFACA may apply when a specific threat or incident is beyond the capabilities of the civil authorities to resolve. DACC applies where the use of force by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is not envisaged; DFACA applies where the use of force by the ADF may be required.
  8. The Commonwealth Government may also provide other operational support from other relevant agencies.
  9. In the event of loss of life, the police investigation will form the basis of a coronial inquest. The SIO must ensure that all relevant information and evidence acquired in the course of the investigation is managed in accordance with agreed investigative arrangements. Other agencies involved will also need to maintain detailed records of events, decisions, plans and arrangements and provide these to police.

Coordination Arrangements

State and Territory Coordination

  1. Each State and Territory government will determine its response to a terrorist act based on an assessment of the risk to that jurisdiction. This may include activating a SCC/TCC. The SCC/TCC will provide the communications link between the police command, the State/Territory government and the Commonwealth Government.
  2. Affected jurisdictions may seek assistance from the Commonwealth Government, and other State and Territory governments.

Commonwealth Government Coordination

  1. After the CCC is notified of a terrorist act it will advise other Commonwealth Government, State and Territory agencies and activate Commonwealth Government crisis coordination arrangements, which may include convening the NCC.
  2. ASIO will establish appropriate mechanisms (which may include a National Intelligence Group), involving relevant agencies to assess, coordinate and disseminate intelligence relevant to the incident.
  3. In the first instance, management of needs and resources will be coordinated between AGD and State and Territory authorities according to existing plans. AGD will coordinate Commonwealth Government assistance. If the resources required exceed those available through this mechanism, inter-governmental negotiation will be required.
  4. A national terrorist situation is an administrative agreement between Australian governments, which draws on current arrangements and reflects a shared understanding of the benefits of national leadership at such a time. The Commonwealth will consult with, and seek agreement from, the affected States and Territories before any national terrorist situation is declared. States and Territories agree not to unreasonably withhold such agreement. 17
  5. In a national terrorist situation responsibility for policy and broad strategy in relation to that situation transfers to the Commonwealth Government, in close consultation with relevant States and Territories. This may involve determining overall policy objectives, setting priorities between policy objectives where resources are inadequate, prepositioning Commonwealth resources, international liaison, and determining public information messages. States and Territories retain operational responsibility.
  6. The Police Commissioners will determine the command and resourcing of the national police response.

Media Liaison

  1. All security agencies have a role in ensuring that information and media liaison activities work to:
  • improve the public’s understanding of Australia’s national counter-terrorism arrangements;
  • generate confidence in Australia’s ability to respond to any terrorist act or threat; and
  • instill public trust that governments and national security agencies are open and accountable, and will release all information possible within the confines of operational and security considerations.
  1. The police are responsible for liaising with the media according to their standing arrangements, in consultation with the affected agencies or organisations. Once an SCC/TCC is operating, media comment will be coordinated between the police, the SCC/TCC and the Commonwealth Government.

Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Response

  1. The State and Territory governments have responsibility for the development, implementation and maintenance of disaster/emergency management plans that include capabilities to prevent, respond and recover from CBRN incidents and conduct subsequent investigations. These plans should be integrated with State and Territory counter-terrorism arrangements.
  2. The National CBRN Security Strategy provides a framework to strengthen and enhance existing national counter-terrorism arrangements by:
  • describing the security environment;
  • identifying principle elements of Australia’s approach to CBRN security;
  • describing the prevention, preparedness, response and recovery framework in which these elements will be addressed; and
  • identifying areas of responsibility for governments, business, industry and the community.
  1. Arrangements for responding to a CBRN incident replicate those for other terrorist incidents supplemented by specialist expertise from State, Territory and Commonwealth agencies.
  2. The ADF maintains the Incident Response Regiment (IRR), which may be deployed to assess and respond to CBRN incidents under DACC arrangements. 18


Explosive Devices

  1. Police maintain a capability to detect, assess and render safe improvised explosive devices (IED) and to conduct post-blast examinations. The Australian Bomb Data Centre (ABDC) provides technical intelligence and advice in relation to devices and components.
  2. Defence maintains IED and military ordnance disposal capabilities and these are available to assist State and Territories under the DACC arrangements.

Postal Security

  1. Each State and Territory maintains a Mail Bomb Response Committee to provide specialist advice and services in the event of a mail bombing. These committees draw together relevant government agencies as required.

Immediate Relief and Support

  1. An integral part of response is the immediate relief and support to those affected both directly and indirectly by a terrorism act.
  2. State, Territory and Commonwealth governments recognise that, in conjunction with the first response by emergency services the immediate establishment of mechanisms such as information lines, reception centres and coordinated public messaging are essential in providing immediate relief and support to the community. These relief and support arrangements will further assist in the transition to recovery.


  1. Recovery is the coordinated process of supporting affected communities in reconstruction of the physical infrastructure and restoration of psychological, social, economic, environmental and physical wellbeing.
  2. All State and Territory governments undertake recovery activities in keeping with the National Principles for Disaster Recovery which are available at
  3. Recovery relies on strategic advisory processes and impact assessments that inform the nature of apparent and emerging loss.
  4. Recovery following a terrorist act is likely to pose unique and complex challenges that may require special recovery consideration. This will include the impact on individuals, vulnerable groups and businesses beyond the geographic place of the act.
  5. Governments will work collaboratively with affected individuals, groups, communities and business to re-establish essential services, and restore public confidence and community wellbeing. As with all emergencies, the size and scale of the event will dictate the level of government involvement.
  6. While recovery may be complex, to be effective long term recovery requires local community input.
  7. Transitional arrangements need to ensure that arrangements commenced during response are gradually devolved and integrated into the recovery phase. This will include media arrangements, information management, impact assessment, case management, rehabilitation of built and natural environments, and restoring social networks and public confidence. 19

Roles and Responsibilities

  1. State and Territory governments are responsible for coordinating recovery from a terrorist act affecting their jurisdiction.
  2. The Commonwealth Government supports the States and Territories to fulfill this role.

Operational Coordination Arrangements

  1. Existing State and Territory government arrangements for emergency relief and recovery may be activated following a terrorist act. However, governments acknowledge that more complex and multi-layered recovery arrangements may be required to address issues arising from the broader community impacts of a terrorist act.
  2. Recovery from a terrorist act may also need to address impacts across jurisdictions and sectors. Coordination and collaboration between jurisdictions will be vital to ensure that recovery approaches are consistent and the outcomes are equitable.

Commonwealth Level

  1. The Commonwealth Government, in close consultation with all States and Territories, may consider the initial recovery strategy and Commonwealth resources required for its implementation.
  2. AGD oversees the Australian Government Disaster Recovery Arrangements which outline the understandings, roles and responsibilities through which the Commonwealth Government coordinates recovery assistance.
  3. The AGDRC develops policy and coordinates recovery activities at the Commonwealth level.

State/Territory Level

  1. Recovery coordination from terrorist acts will generally replicate that applied to other emergencies or disasters.
  2. State and Territory arrangements specify which agencies are responsible for recovery services and incorporate local, regional and state level coordination.
  3. The generic role of State/Territory committees includes:
  • coordinating and facilitating the whole of government recovery process;
  • developing policy on recovery management planning and operations;
  • developing the recovery strategy;
  • overseeing the implementation of the recovery strategy;
  • providing advice to government; and
  • regularly reviewing recovery plans and arrangements.

Regional/District/ Local Level

  1. Regional/district/local committees are necessary where recovery services are administered and delivered on a regional, district or local basis. The generic role of regional, district or local recovery committees include:
  • coordinating and facilitating a whole of agency recovery process;
  • implementing regional/district/local aspects of the recovery strategy;
  • developing and implementing regional/ district/local policy on recovery management planning and operations;
  • providing advice to government;
  • coordinating post disaster recovery reports; and
  • regularly reviewing recovery plans. 20
  1. A variety of non-government organisations also provide many recovery services which may be coordinated through local authorities.

Key Considerations

  1. Transitional arrangements from response to recovery need to ensure that arrangements commenced during response are gradually devolved and integrated. This will include media arrangements, information management, impact assessment, case management, rehabilitation of built and natural environments, and restoring social networks and public confidence.
  2. Recovery is managed through multi-tiered planning and operational arrangements, that incorporate local, regional and state level structures, providing support and strategic direction where required. Effective recovery operations rely on a broad and varied range of stakeholders.
  3. The size and scale of the event will dictate the level of government involvement.
  4. Recovery relies on strategic advisory processes and impact assessments that inform the nature of apparent and emerging loss. It should be recognised that a varied range of vulnerable groups may emerge following an incident and operations will need to be targeted accordingly.
  5. A terrorist act poses unique consequences that may require special recovery consideration. These may include impacts on public confidence and individuals and businesses. 21

National Counter-Terrorism Management Arrangements


 ABDC Australian Bomb Data Centre

ACBPS Australian Customs and Border Protection Service

ACC Australian Crime Commission

ADF Australian Defence Force

AFP Australian Federal Police

AGCC Australian Government Crisis Committee

AGD [Commonwealth Government] Attorney-General’s Department

AGDRA Australian Government Disaster Recovery Arrangements

AGDRC Australian Government Disaster Recovery Committee

AHPC Australian Health Protection Committee

ASIO Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

ASNO Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office

ASO Air Security Officer

ATSA Aviation Transport Security Act 2004

BPC Border Protection Command (a multi-agency taskforce within ACBPS)

CBRN Chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear

CCC [Commonwealth Government] Crisis Coordination Centre

CERT Computer Emergency Response Team

CI Critical infrastructure: that which, if destroyed, degraded or rendered unavailable for an extended period, will impact on social or economic well-being or affect national security or defence

CIAC Critical Infrastructure Advisory Council

CMAL Central Movement Alert List

COAG Council of Australian Governments

CSOC Cyber Security Operations Centre

CTCC Counter-Terrorism Control Centre

CTRC Commonwealth Technical Response Capability

CVE Countering violent extremism

DACC Defence Assistance to the Civil Community

DFACA Defence Force Aid to Civilian Authorities

DFAT Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade

DIAC Department of Immigration and Citizenship

DOHA Department of Health and Ageing

DoIT Department of Infrastructure and Transport

EMA Emergency Management Australia (a Division of AGD)

FaHCSIA Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs

Handbook National Counter-Terrorism Handbook 23

IAEA International Atomic Energy Agency

IDETF Inter-Departmental Emergency Task Force

IED Improvised explosive device

IGA Inter-Governmental Agreement

IRR Incident Response Regiment

JCTT Joint Counter-Terrorism Teams

JIG Joint Intelligence Group

NCC National Crisis Committee

NCIRC National Critical Infrastructure Resilience Committee

NCTC National Counter-Terrorism Committee

NCTP National Counter-Terrorism Plan

NICC National Intelligence Coordination Committee

NIG National Intelligence Group

NII National Information infrastructure: the information systems that underpin critical sectors of the economy, as well as critical government services, including defence and emergency services

NSA National Security Adviser (an Associate Secretary in PM&C – the principal source of advice to the Prime Minister and on all policy matters relating to the security of the nation)

NSC National Security Committee [of Cabinet]

NSPCG National Security Policy Coordination Group

NTAC National Threat Assessment Centre

OTS Office of Transport Security (a Division of DoIT)

Part IIIAAA A reference to the Defence Act 1903 – commonly referred to as DFACA

PM&C The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet

PPRR Preparedness, Prevention, Response and Recovery

PSPF Protective Security Policy Framework

RRDT Regional Rapid Deployment Teams

SCC State Crisis Centre

SCNS Secretaries Committee on National Security

SIO Senior Investigating Officer

TA Threat Assessment: issued by ASIO, describes the threat to an event, facility, sector or individual

TCC Territory Crisis Centre

TISN Trusted Information Sharing Network for Critical Infrastructure Resilience

TSP Transport Security Program 24

Annex A Agency roles

States and Territories

Community Services departments and agencies assist individual and community recovery through the coordinated provision of emergency and ongoing assistance.

Dangerous goods and work cover agencies maintain standards for the security and transport of dangerous substances.

Emergency services provide consequence management in the event of a terrorist act, consistent with State and Territory plans and structures.

Engineering services/public works departments assist the recovery of physical infrastructure.

First ministers’ departments coordinate the whole of government preparedness and response.

Health departments participate in the development and maintenance of biological hazard plans; provide hospital treatment and on-going care for victims.

Police have operational responsibility for preventing and responding to terrorism and will investigate possible terrorist activity.

Transport departments are responsible for coordinating surface transport operations and ensuring the implementation of security arrangements for those operations that are security identified.

 Commonwealth Government

 Airservices Australia provides air traffic management, air navigation infrastructure services and aviation rescue and firefighting.

Attorney-General’s Department provides legislative advice, and policy coordination of critical infrastructure protection, and cyber security policy coordination, which includes technical response for the private sector, through CERT Australia. EMA (and its embedded CCC) is a division of the Department.

Australian Customs and Border Protection Service facilitates and monitors the movement of people and goods across the border in a manner that protects the community, intercepts prohibited and restricted items, identifies illegal movement of people and maintains compliance with Australian law.

Australian Federal Police enforces Commonwealth criminal law and protects Commonwealth and national interests from crime in Australia and overseas. The AFP is the Commonwealth Government’s primary law enforcement body and provides services to assist in the prevention and investigation of crime in relation to Australian interests both in Australia and overseas.

Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency is the IAEA designated National Competent Authority for Emergency Preparedness and Response involving radiological materials can provide specialist technical operational support teams to the Australian Government and the State and Territory jurisdictions upon request.

  • ARPANSA teams are capable of locating, identifying and characterising radiological material, including being able to assess the geographic and health implications due to an event or incident.

Australian Safeguards and Non-proliferation Office, within DFAT, regulates nuclear safeguards within Australia to ensure that Australia meets non-proliferation and security treaty commitments and implements the Chemical Weapons Convention and Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty. ASNO is also involved in the development of domestic verification arrangements for the Biological Weapons Convention.

Australian Secret Intelligence Service obtains intelligence on the capabilities, intentions and activities of people or organisations outside Australia.

Australian Security Intelligence Organisation is the national security intelligence body and the authority for assessing threats to security. It collects, analyses and distributes relevant security intelligence.

Border Protection Command is an Australian Government multi-agency organisation that delivers a coordinated, national approach to Australia’s offshore civil maritime security.

Civil Aviation Safety Authority conducts the safety regulation of civil air operations in Australia and the operation of Australian aircraft outside Australia under the Civil Aviation Act 1988.

Department of Defence maintains capabilities to assist civil authorities in emergencies under Defence Assistance to the Civil Community arrangements and Defence Force Aid to Civilian Authorities (Part IIIAAA of the Defence Act 1903). DACC and DFACA may apply when a specific emergency is beyond the capabilities of the civil authorities to resolve. DACC applies where the use of force is not envisaged; DFACA, where force may be required. Call-out under DFACA must be authorised by the Governor- General, on the advice of nominated Ministers.

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade conducts international liaison designed to enhance international counter-terrorism arrangements and provides advice in relation to the protection of visiting foreign dignitaries. It also manages any “reverse consular” obligations that may arise if there were a terrorist incident in Australia. The Department, through the IDETF, also coordinates the Australian Government’s response to overseas terrorist incidents, particularly when involving Australians or Australian interests. Department of Health and Ageing maintains stockpiles of antidotes and vaccines and plans for dealing with disease outbreaks.

Department of Immigration and Citizenship maintains the Central Movement Alert List and administers Australia’s visa regime.

Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DoIT or Infrastructure) is responsible for ensuring a transport system that is more secure against the threat of terrorism and act of unlawful interference. Through the Office of Transport Security (OTS), the Department regulates the preventative security measures on industry participants in the aviation, maritime (including offshore oil and gas) and air cargo sectors. The Department also works with State and Territory governments to develop a consistent and coordinated approach to securing the surface transport sector. OTS coordinates national transport security policy, provides security risk advice to industry participants in its regulated sector and has specific responsibilities during an aviation or maritime transport security incident.

Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism has particular policy responsibility for offshore petroleum infrastructure and installations and a strong coordinating role with respect to onshore energy infrastructure.

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet advises the Prime Minister on matters relating to counter-terrorism, coordinates Commonwealth policy responses to terrorism, chairs the NCTC, NCC, AGCC, and provides the secretariat for Cabinet Committees, SCNS, and policy coordination groups, such as NSPCG.

Emergency Management Australia coordinates emergency and consequence management assistance to States and Territories.

Office of National Assessments provides intelligence assessments on terrorist activities outside Australia.

Non-Government Organisations assist community recovery through the provision of emergency and ongoing welfare assistance.