ASIO was established in 1949 as Australia's national security intelligence service. ASIO operates under the direction of the Director-General of Security who is responsible to the Attorney-General.
ASIO's role is to identify and investigate threats to security, wherever they arise, and to provide advice to protect Australia, its people and its interests. ASIO's functions are set out in the the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (the ASIO Act).
Security is defined in the ASIO Act as espionage, serious threats to Australia's territorial and border integrity, sabotage, politically motivated violence, the promotion of communal violence, attacks on Australia's defence system, and acts of foreign interference. It also includes the carrying out of Australia's responsibilities to any foreign country in relation to threats to security with a particular focus on politically motivated violence.