ASIO protects Australia and Australians from threats to their security. Our corporate plan sets the foundation for ASIO to fulfil this purpose—describing the environment we operate in, articulating our key priorities, and detailing how we will measure our success.
ASIO’s work protecting Australia and Australians remains vital in a complex, challenging and changing security environment.
Threat to life
Australia’s national terrorism threat level remains at PROBABLE. There are individuals and groups that have the capability and intent to conduct an act of terrorism. This threat is not going away.
- The legacy of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant endures, and we have continued to see religiously motivated attacks in Australia and around the world. In the last year, we have worked closely with law enforcement counterparts to disrupt multiple terrorist plots.
- Ideologically motivated extremists—such as nationalist and racist groups—are now more reactive to world events, and in the last year this threat has grown in scale. Investigations are approaching 50 per cent of ASIO’s priority onshore counter-terrorism caseload, reflecting an international trend and our decision to allocate more resources to the threat.
Threats to our way of life
Our adversaries seek to covertly undermine our sovereignty, interfere in our democratic institutions and steal classified or sensitive information—across government, defence, academia and private industry.
All foreign states seek to influence others on matters of importance to them. This is a common feature of statecraft, and not of concern when it occurs in the open. Clandestine and deceptive interference and espionage, however, has the potential to cause serious harm to Australia’s democratic institutions, sovereignty, economy, and national security capabilities.
In the last three years, ASIO has seen examples of espionage and foreign interference targeting all levels of government, and in every state and territory.
- Foreign intelligence services and their proxies persistently seek to develop relationships with Australian Government figures, academics, journalists, and Australian businesses and their representatives in order to pursue objectives detrimental to Australia’s security.
- This includes attempts to obtain information about Australia’s national security priorities and capabilities, our defence technology, and our trade relationships. It also includes attempts to monitor diaspora communities in Australia. In some cases, foreign interference extends to intimidation and threats of physical harm against Australians.
In coming years we expect espionage and foreign interference will supplant terrorism as Australia’s principal security concern.
ASIO’s purpose is enabled by our strong partnerships with law enforcement; the National Intelligence Community; Australian state, territory and federal governments; industry; academia; and our international counterparts. These relationships are vital to our success.
The pandemic had a profound impact on our operating environment, evolving and intensifying the security landscape and introducing new challenges. Among other things, it placed a greater emphasis on how the online world shapes our environment—exacerbating the threat from extremism, and also from espionage and foreign interference.
We are meeting and defeating these challenges through the agility, ingenuity and diversity of our staff. ASIO officers are creative thinkers and problem solvers. We take advantage of new opportunities and technologies, adapting to our changing environment to counter the security threats we face.
The government has approved $1.25 billion in new funding for ASIO over the next 10 years, giving the Organisation an unprecedented ‘capability uplift’ and the assurance it can maintain its core capabilities and infrastructure. The capability program will support ASIO’s human-led, data-driven and technology-enabled approach, improving our capacity to operate in a more complex threat environment.
The investment will future-proof our response to security challenges posed by rapid technological change and an exponential growth in the volume of multi-source, multi-format and multi-language data. Smart use of technology, developed by partnering with the Australian technology sector, will sustain ASIO’s ability to ‘join-the-dots’ across this data.
ASIO’s success is enabled by the trust and confidence placed in us by government, our partners and the broader public. I am determined to build on this through a commitment to accountability and transparency. We act ethically, carry out our work impartially, and engage honestly and proactively with Australia’s intelligence oversight frameworks.
As Director-General, I am committed to being as open and transparent as I can be while safeguarding what needs to be protected. This corporate plan, and its performance measures, provide a window into what ASIO does to achieve our purpose, while protecting the sensitive capabilities that allow us to deliver operational outcomes.
While the security challenges facing our country are significant and evolving, ASIO remains determined to secure Australia and protect its people.
Director-General of Security