A global focus, International work for a national purpose.
+ / -What does ASIS do?

Our primary function is to obtain and distribute foreign intelligence, not readily available by other means, to assist the Australian Government and policy-makers in making informed decisions on matters of national interest and security. ASIS is a statutory agency that provides foreign intelligence for those departments that formulate policy. Our other functions, as stated in the Intelligence Services Act 2001, include counter-intelligence activities and communicating with intelligence and security services overseas.

+ / -Does ASIS set its own collection requirements?

No, we do not. Although we are a collection agency, we gather intelligence in response to Government priorities only. Key agencies involved in setting the intelligence priorities for ASIS include the Office of National Assessments (ONA), the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C), the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) and the Department of Defence (DOD).

+ / -Is ASIS a member of the Australian Intelligence Community?

Yes, we are. The Australian Intelligence Community (AIC) includes Australia's foreign and security intelligence collection and assessment agencies. The six intelligence agencies are: ONA, ASIO, ASIS, DIO, ASD and DIGO. Although each agency has distinct roles and functions, collectively they work together to meet Australia's broad-ranging intelligence and security needs. Strong communication between agencies, and a coordinated approach to intelligence activities, ensures the best use of Australia's intelligence resources.

+ / -Who oversees ASIS's activities and expenditure?

We are accountable to the Government through the Minister for Foreign Affairs under the Intelligence Services Act 2001. ASIS's Director-General is directly responsible to the Minister, and holds regular meetings with him to discuss ASIS's activities. ASIS is subject to Parliamentary oversight through the Minister for Foreign Affairs and the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence and Security (PJCIS) which reviews our expenditure and administration (as well as ASIO's and ASD's), and other matters referred to it by the Minister or either House of Parliament. Any legal issues and the propriety of ASIS's activities are overseen by the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security (IGIS), who reports to the Prime Minister annually. ASIS's financial and administrative affairs are regularly audited by the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO). ASIS also prepares a classified Annual Report.

+ / -Does ASIS collect intelligence on Australians?

Yes, but only in special situations. On September 17 2008, the Minister for Foreign Affairs, following consultation with the Director-General of ASIS, the Inspector-General of Intelligence and Security and the Attorney-General, developed written rules regulating ASIS intelligence concerning Australian persons. The Rules to Protect the Privacy of Australians state that collection on an Australian person is allowed only for authorised intelligence purposes; for example, if an Australian person was believed to pose a risk to national security, or to be acting on behalf of a foreign power. Any collection on Australian persons requires the approval of the Director-General and Minister for Foreign Affairs.

+ / -Does ASIS ever use torture?

No. The Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment establishes Australia's obligations in relation to the prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment. No exceptional circumstances such as war, internal political instability, or any other public emergency, or an order from a superior officer or public authority may be invoked as a justification for torture. We act in accordance with Australian law and Australian Government policy, and do not employ torture, in the pursuit of our functions or act in a way that sanctions or encourages torture by others.

+ / -Do ASIS officers carry weapons?

Yes, but only in certain circumstances and only for self-defence purposes. ASIS’s legislation provides for the protection of our people. Schedule 2 of the Intelligence Services Act 2001 sets out the conditions by which ASIS officers are permitted to carry weapons.

+ / -What are the differences between ASIS and ASIO?

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) is Australia's national security service. As set out in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979, ASIO's main role is to gather information and produce intelligence which warns the government about activities or situations that might endanger Australia's security. The fundamental difference between the two intelligence agencies is that ASIS's work relates to foreign intelligence and ASIO's primarily to security intelligence. Another important difference is that while human intelligence is the main focus of ASIS's work, ASIO's human collection is only one part of its work as it is an integrated collection, assessment and advisory agency.

+ / -How many people work for ASIS?

We do not reveal the number of staff we employ, for reasons of operational security.

+ / -Where do ASIS officers work?

Our headquarters are in Canberra where many of our officers work. Of course, they also work overseas.

+ / -How do I become an officer in ASIS?

 If you would like to apply for a position with ASIS, please visit our Careers Pages.

Print Logo

© Copyright Commonwealth of Australia 2014