I have an existing security clearance with another agency, do I still need to undergo a new clearance process? ............................................................................................. 11
Security vetting, or the security clearance process, is the background checking carried out prior to granting access to security classified material.
If you agree to undertake the security clearance process for the purposes of gaining employment, transferring or promotion into a position, securing a service provision contract, or to complete additional tasks within an existing position you are to:
disclose all relevant and required information co-operate in the collection of personal documents and corroborating evidence answer questions fully and honestly, and provide accurate information and personal documents.
The Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA) provides security vetting services to most
Australian government agencies.
Australian citizenship is a condition of eligibility for security clearances. In exceptional circumstances
If there are any gaps or anomalies identified from the information and documents you provide the
AGSVA may request additional documents. The AGSVA will be able to provide justification at the time of the request.
(What you need to do after your clearance is granted.)
Some clearances are granted subject to specific aftercare requirements. If so you will be advised at the time your clearance is granted.
All clearances are required to be revalidated at regular intervals. The interval is dependent on the level of the clearance. AGSVA will advise you when your revalidation is due.
If you change your personal circumstances the changes may affect your security clearance. All changes are to be reported. See PSPF – Personnel Security supporting guidelines - Reporting changes in
personal circumstances guidelines.
Security awareness training is ongoing and is provided by all agencies to:
provide personal safety awareness, and
address agency specific security risks.
Please contact your agency security section to confirm training availability.
Australian citizenship is a condition of eligibility for security clearances, unless the agency head has waived this requirement.
The Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA) is required to verify your Australian citizenship as part of the vetting process unless a citizenship waiver has been granted.
Australian citizenship is also generally a requirement for employment in the Australian Public Service.
For further information on conditions of engagement refer to the APSC publication: Citizenship in the
Australian Public Service.
Most people born in Australia prior to 20 August 1986 are Australian citizens by birth unless one parent was a foreign diplomat. For people born prior to this date, an Australian birth certificate can be taken as evidence of Australian citizenship.
People born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986 are Australian citizens only if one parent was an
Australian citizen or permanent resident of Australia at the time of birth. Children born in Australia whose parents are not permanent residents of Australia or Australian citizens automatically become
Australian citizens on their 10 th
birthday if they have been ordinarily resident in Australia for the period of 10 years since their birth. See the Australian Government Com law website - Australian Citizenship
Documents that can be taken as evidence of Australian citizenship for people born on or after
20 August 1986 are:
an Australian passport that was issued on or after 1 January 2000 for a period of at least two years an Australian citizenship certificate, or a certificate of evidence of Australian citizenship issued by the Department of Immigration and
If you were born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986 and do not provide one of the above, you are required to provide evidence of Australian citizenship by the following:
Australian birth certificate, and one of:
proof of one parent’s Australian citizenship at the time of your birth (ie Australian birth certificate, an Australian passport that that was issued for a period of at least two years on or after 20 August 1986 and prior to your birth; or certificate of Australian citizenship issued prior to your birth), or
proof of one parent’s permanent residence in Australia at the time of your birth (ie a passport showing a permanent entry stamp into Australia prior to the time of birth).
If you were born in Australia on or after 20 August 1986, and have lived in Australia for at least
10 years from birth and cannot otherwise prove citizenship, you are to contact DIAC to obtain a certificate of evidence of Australian citizenship. Your security clearance may not be granted until you provide a certified copy of the certificate.
Please note that despite holding evidence of Australian citizenship, you may have ceased to be an
Australian citizen because you acquired the citizenship of another country prior to 4 April 2002 or because you renounced your Australian citizenship.
DIAC is the agency responsible for determining a person’s Australian citizenship status. If there is any doubt about your Australian citizenship status, you should contact DIAC. Further information is available at www.citizenship.gov.au.
If you cannot otherwise confirm Australian citizenship you are to contact the Department of Immigration and
Citizenship to obtain evidence of Australian
Citizenship. Contact the Citizenship Information Line on 131 880, or www.citizenship.gov.au
Were you born in Australia?
Certificate of Australian
Were you born after
20 August 1986
Australian Birth Certificate
Australian Birth Certificate
An Australian Passport issued on or after 1 Jan 2000 for a period of at least two years
Certificate of Australian
Certificate of evidence of
Proof of one parent’s Australian citizenship at the time of your birth
One parent’s Australian Birth
One parent’s Australian
One parent’s Australian
Citizenship Certificate issued before your birth
Proof of one parent’s Australian permanent residence at the time of your birth
One parent’s Passport showing a permanent entry stamp
1. An Australian Passport that that was issued to your parent, for a period of at least two years, on or after 20 August 1986 and prior to your birth.
Full birth certificate A prime means to identify you (the clearance subject) which:
provides citizenship details
provides birth dates and birth places of clearance subject
can provide birth dates, birth places and occupation of parents
If full birth certificate not available, the following are acceptable:
extract or notarised record of birth
certificate of adoption other documents such as religious records (especially for overseas births) in conjunction with the statutory declaration
A legal document that:
advises a formal change of name
states the previous name and the current name
Document confirms citizenship and the date and location of the grant of citizenship
Certificate of evidence of Australian citizenship
Provides confirmation of Australian citizenship where you cannot otherwise prove citizenship with a passport or citizenship certificate
Issued by DIAC
Marriage or divorce certificates
Marriage certificate provides details of spouse and witnesses, location of nuptials (helps to corroborate other information)
Divorce certificate (decree nisi or decree absolute) to corroborate other information - required for each divorce
Travel or residency documents
Current driver’s licence
You do not need to provide other evidence of previous marriages if you provide divorce papers (decree nisi or decree absolute)
Examination of the passports may help identify citizenship of, residence in, or visits to foreign countries
Provide copies of cover pages and any long term residency visas
Helps corroborate your identity, as well as provides evidence of current, and possibly previous, residential addresses
Also required for the police check
Evidence of current residential address
Evidence of previous employment
Establishing the current and previous residential addresses will assist in further corroborating your identity
Proof of your current and previous residential addresses can be provided by any one, or a combination, of a number of items such as:
utilities and telephone bills
land titles, and personal documents such as driver’s licences
If other personal documents provided are sufficient evidence of your residential address, additional documents are not required
Courses taking during the required checking period can help when crossreferencing past and present addresses, periods of unemployment and overseas travel
For copies of missing academic qualifications, contact the appropriate educational facility
If previous employer checks are not possible, employment documents will assist in corroborating employment history (eg, pay slips, group certificates).
Employment history may corroborate personal information, including, for example, qualifications and travel history
Assessing officers are required by law to obliterate tax file numbers on the
Provides details about your service in the armed forces – helps check identity and confirm employment
Discharge certificate or military service record
Recent photograph To corroborate the validity of identity documents that contain your photographic identification, and to assist identify applicant to referees
If you cannot provide the required documents contact the AGSVA.
The answers provided to the following questions are generic in nature. It is recommended that you speak to the agency that has requested you undergo a clearance process or the Australian
Government Security Vetting Agency for more detailed or specific answers to your queries.
What is a security clearance?
A security clearance is a series of assessments and background checks to ensure that people entrusted with security classified resources:
are eligible to have access have had their identity established are suitable to have access, and are willing to comply with the standards that safeguard those resources against misuse.
The security clearance process is intrusive by its nature. However, your privacy and dignity is respected. The process is non-discriminatory and the principles of natural justice are observed.
The Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) and the Australian Government Personnel Security
Protocol outline the minimum standards that are to be met by agencies when conducting a security clearance. The PSPF defines a security clearance as:
An administrative determination by competent authority that an individual is eligible and suitable, from a security stand-point, for access to security classified resources.
Am I eligible for a security clearance?
Australian security clearances are normally only granted to Australian citizens whose backgrounds can be checked for the requisite period of 5 years for base line clearances, 10 years for negative vetting clearances and whole of life for positive vetting level clearances.
In exceptional circumstances agency heads may waive these eligibility requirements if the risks can be otherwise mitigated.
for further detail on proof of citizenship.
The level of security clearance that you require will depend on the level of classified information you will be required to access in your position, ie ‘your need-to-know’. The requirement for a security clearance is not based on rank or seniority.
What is ‘need to know’?
To protect the security of classified resources, the government has decided that only those people whose work responsibilities require access to these resources are to have access. These people are commonly referred to as having a ‘need to know’.
What are the levels of security clearances?
See PSPF - Australian Government Personnel Security Protocol
Agency specific character checks (fit and proper person checks)
You should note that security clearances are only one type of character check that agency heads may impose as conditions of employment on their staff.
Agency heads may decide that additional checks are required to address specific risks identified in their agency.
Why are security clearances necessary?
Personnel security clearances are required in Australia, and in other countries such as the USA and UK, to limit the risk of sensitive and classified information being accessed by unauthorised organisations and persons, such as:
foreign intelligence services those who wish to overthrow or undermine the government by unconstitutional or violent means
terrorist groups, and individuals who:
may be susceptible to pressure or improper influence
have shown dishonesty or lack of integrity which casts doubts upon their suitability, or have demonstrated behaviour or are subject to circumstances which may otherwise indicate unreliability.
While you may not be a member of one of the above, the clearance process may identify if you could be subject to undue influence from these types of organisations or people.
Who needs a security clearance?
An agency will seek a security clearance for people with a legitimate ongoing need to access security classified resources in order to carry out their duties. These people may include:
public servants members of the security and intelligence community members of the armed forces
Australian Federal Police officers
State and Territory public servants and police officers who receive and use Commonwealth security classified material or other valuable resources contractors who provide goods and services to the Commonwealth, States and Territories other persons who are provided with security classified material by a government agency, and people who have access to classified ICT systems.
Note: A large number of agencies’ ICT systems are classified and all people working for these agencies need to hold a clearance to access the systems.
The AGSVA determines your suitability to access security classified resources through the assessment of a number of suitability indicators, including:
honesty trustworthiness maturity tolerance, and loyalty as well as an appreciation of protective security responsibilities and obligations.
AGSVA conducts a number of background assessments and records checks on you to identify possible vulnerabilities against factor areas including:
external loyalties, influences and associations personal relationships and conduct financial considerations alcohol and drug usage criminal history and conduct security attitudes and violations, and mental health disorders.
AGSVA conducts personnel security clearances in Australia on behalf of all agencies, except a limited number of exempt agencies. All agencies undertaking the clearance process are to comply with the requirements prescribed in the PSPF and Australian Government Personnel Security Protocol (PERSEC
You will be asked to complete a security package containing a range of questionnaires addressing the factor areas. The level of clearance will determine the number and complexity of the questions.
The information you provide is used as the basis for conducting a range of background checks and inquiries. The background checks will assist in identifying any vulnerable areas in your life or background history that may expose you to manipulation, blackmail or coercion.
The checks may include referee interviews, financial checks and searches of records held by Australian
Government agencies including the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation and the Australian
Federal Police. From these the AGSVA will make an assessment of your suitability to access security classified material.
Who decides whether a security clearance will be granted?
After reviewing all of the information provided by you, your referees’ reports and the results of your background checks the assessing officer makes a recommendation to the AGSVA, or exempt agency officer authorised to grant or withhold a security clearance.
This will be a senior level officer who:
may make a determination in accordance with the recommendation may choose to ignore the recommendation, or may request the assessing officer seek additional information before making a determination.
Will I be told whether a clearance has been granted?
The AGSVA will notify you and your agency when your clearance has been granted. This may be in the form of a ‘grant letter’ advising that you have been granted access to a particular level of security classified material.
Your agency will provide you with security awareness training, a briefing or documents that make clear to you your responsibilities including the need to report any changes in personal circumstances and
suspicious contacts. If you are unsure of your responsibilities as a clearance holder you should contact your agency security section for further advice.
Can I request a review of a clearance decision?
Yes. If you are notified of intent to withhold or withdraw a security clearance, or grant a clearance at a lower level than requested, you have a right to request a review. The AGSVA will advise you of the procedures for requesting a review at the time you are notified of the clearance decision.
If you are unhappy with the way AGSVA carried out the clearance process you may also request a review of the process.
All Australian security clearances that meet the requirements of the PSPF including the PERSEC
Protocol are transferable between the AGSVA and exempt agencies.
Clearances processed prior to October 2010 were processed by and are held by individual agencies.
You should advise AGSVA that you have an existing clearance. The assessing officer will request that you complete a ‘consent to release’ or ‘general consent’ form. This gives your previous agency permission to provide AGSVA, or an exempt agency with your Personal Security File. The assessing officer will then request the previous clearance file be transferred to your new agency.
You may still be required to undergo a new clearance process if:
your existing clearance has expired
you need a clearance at a higher level than your existing clearance your clearance was issues subject to an eligibility waiver, or your original clearance process was not carried out in accordance with the minimum standards of the PSPF.
Agency specific character checks (fit and proper person checks)
It should be noted that security clearances are only one type of character check that agency heads may impose as conditions of employment on agency staff.
Agency heads may decide that additional checks are required to address specific risks identified in their agency. These checks are not transferable and you will normally need to undergo them prior to being employed.
No. You must:
be engaged in, or selected for, a ongoing or non-ongoing position in an Australian Government agency that requires access to classified resources
be employed, or selected for employment, by a State or Territory Government agency and require access to classified resources, or
be sponsored by an Australian Government agency as:
a contractor, or work for a contractor, to a government agency and you require access classified resources, or
a person who requires access to classified resources as part of an agreement with a government agency.
When you are undergoing the security clearance process the AGSVA, or exempt agency should fully inform you of your rights and responsibilities:
as the security clearance process is inherently intrusive, your privacy and dignity should be respected at all times. Any consent obtained from you to conduct checks and inquiries should be confirmed in writing and you should understand all aspects of the process
AGSVA and exempt agencies are not to discriminate against clearance subjects on any unlawful basis, for example race, age, criminal history, gender or sexual preference and the decision about suitability for security clearance should observe the Principles of Natural
Justice. See the Australian Human Rights Commission - Federal Discrimination Law for further advice.
clearance subjects are to be assessed on the ‘whole person principle’, ie the AGSVA, or exempt agency considers factors relevant to the clearance process in the context of your whole life and range of experiences so that the assessing officer develops an accurate assessment of you as a unique individual, and
the security clearance process works within the legal framework of the Privacy Act 1988
(Privacy Act), which imposes obligations on agencies who collect personal information. The agency collecting the information is to inform you of the reason for the collection of the information as well as how it will be used, and if applicable disclosed.
Can I access the information collected about me in the security clearance process?
You may have supervised access to any information provided by you, in accordance with the Freedom
of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).
Some external checks and reports are exempted from the FOI Act, and you will not be able to access this information.
You should contact the AGSVA, or if the clearance was undertaken by another agency that agency to arrange access to your Personal Security File.
Will my personal information be protected?
All information provided by you for the clearance process is only used for assessing your suitability to hold a security clearance. Information provided by you will only be released for other purposes if there is a legal requirement to do so.
What is procedural fairness?
Procedural fairness is concerned with the procedures used by a decision-maker, rather than the actual outcome reached. It requires a fair and proper procedure be used when making a decision. A decisionmaker who follows a fair procedure is more likely to reach a fair and correct decision.
For further information see the PSPF – Personnel Security - Procedural Fairness Guidelines.
If you are a minor there are no specific disqualifying factors relating to processing clearances.
However, AGSVA will consider the following:
minors may have a limited life history and verification of this history may be difficult. As you may have lived most of your life with your parent(s) or guardian(s) you may not be able to provide supporting documents in your name, such as evidence of residential address(es).
Documents in your parent’s or guardian’s name for the period may in some circumstances be acceptable alternatives
minors may not be able to make declarations. We recommend that your signatures be countersigned by a parent or guardian
the value of your referees may be minimal, particularly where they are restricted to family friends or teachers, and
your maturity may be an issue as you have limited life experience.