Back to top

Border Integrity

What are serious threats to Australia’s border integrity?

In a globalised world, Australia relies upon the movement of people and goods across its borders for our national prosperity. But some adversaries seek to exploit Australia’s borders to further their own interests or harm us. While many of these activities are purely criminal and are the responsibility of law enforcement and border agencies, ASIO has a role to play where the activities threaten to seriously undermine the integrity of Australia’s border system.

The current threat environment

Serious threats to Australia’s border integrity occur against the backdrop of broader changes in the international security environment. Recently, serious instability in South Asia and the Middle East has led to the mass displacement of people from their homes, with many seeking refuge in other countries. Some have sought to settle in Australia, either through regular migration or refugee processes, or through irregular processes by employing the services of people smugglers to circumvent official pathways.

Over the past few years these irregular movements have declined, although people smugglers motivated by financial gain have sustained their attempts to actively recruit potential irregular immigrants by promoting misinformation on Australia’s border policy, political situation and other events as indicators that Australia’s border policy would be relaxed.

Extremist groups have also exploited the chaos caused by instability in these regions and sought to circumvent borders overseas to conduct major terrorist attacks. As a named target of these groups, Australia must remain vigilant against terrorists seeking to exploit our borders in a similar way.

ASIO continues to monitor changes in the international security environment to identify the potential for threats to develop to Australia’s border integrity.

What ASIO does do to counter serious threats to Australia’s border integrity

We focus on two key areas:

  • We identify activities that represent a serious threat to Australia’s border integrity.
  • Our advice is used to assist Australia’s agencies effectively manage and/or disrupt activities that represent a serious threat to Australia’s border integrity.

Under Australia’s migration laws, people seeking an Australian visa must be screened on character, health and security grounds. ASIO is responsible for the security-checking component—we provide thousands of security assessments each year to support Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) decisions about whether to issue visas to people seeking to enter Australia. To inform our assessments, we draw on our global network of intelligence partners as well as our own unique collection and assessment capabilities.

We also work closely with other Australian Government agencies to counter people smuggling by participating in Operation Sovereign Borders (OSB), as well as in a number of multi-agency counter–people smuggling groups.