ASIO is a statutory body with functions established by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979.

Our functions are set out in section 17 of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (the ASIO Act), which states: 

(1) The functions of the Organisation are:

     (a) to obtain, correlate and evaluate intelligence relevant to security;

     (b) for purposes relevant to security, to communicate any such intelligence to such persons, and in such manner, as are appropriate to those purposes;

     (c) to advise Ministers and authorities of the Commonwealth in respect of matters relating to security, in so far as those matters are relevant to their functions and responsibilities.

     (ca) to furnish security assessments to a State or an authority of a State in accordance with paragraph 40(1)(b);

     (d) to advise Ministers, authorities of the Commonwealth and such other persons as the Minister, by notice in writing given to the Director-General, determines on matters relating to protective security; and

     (e) to obtain within Australia foreign intelligence pursuant to section 27A or 27B of this Act or section 11A, 11B or 11C of the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979, and to communicate any such intelligence in accordance with this Act or the Telecommunications (Interception and Access) Act 1979; and

     (f) to co-operate with and assist bodies referred to in section 19A [of the ASIO Act] in accordance with that section.


Under section 8A of the Act, ASIO must conduct security intelligence activities in accordance with guidelines issued by the Minister for Home Affairs.

The ASIO Act also establishes ASIO’s special powers allowing us to use methods which would otherwise be illegal, to investigate and collect intelligence on serious threats to Australia’s security.

ASIO’s work is also governed by many other pieces of legislation including: