National Security and Community Safety

The Commonwealth and the States and Territories share responsibility for the internal security of Australia.

COAG has an important role in coordinating government responses to both natural disasters and human-caused risks to personal and community safety.


Responding to Disasters

In December 2009, following the devastating Victorian bushfires and other natural disasters, COAG signed the National Partnership Agreement on Natural Disaster Resilience, to strengthen communities’ resilience to, and minimise the impact of, natural disasters in Australia.

In 2011, COAG endorsed the National Strategy for Disaster Resilience (NSDR) to encapsulate the new resilience-based approach to emergency management. As part of the implementation of the NSDR, a range of initiatives are being progressed to enhance Australia’s capacity to withstand and recover from emergencies and natural disasters. These include:

  • introducing a consistent method of assessing the risks posed by natural hazards;
  • developing an implementation plan for national public safety mobile broadband capability, to enable emergency services such as police, fire fighters and ambulance to communicate and share information while on the move; and
  • upgrading the National Emergency Warning System – known as Emergency Alert  – to allow messages to be sent to mobile telephones based on their location at the time of an emergency, rather than the service address of the owner.

COAG, through the Standing Council on Police and Emergency Management, continues to work on improving disaster relief and recovery arrangements.


A National Response to Organised Crime

The Commonwealth and state and territory governments are working collaboratively to develop the National Organised Crime Response Plan 2015-17, which is expected to be put to Minsters for their endorsement at the Law Crime and Community Safety Council in May 2015.

This will be Australia’s second response plan following the National Organised Crime Response Plan 2010-13, which was endorsed by the then COAG Standing Council on Law and Justice and Standing Council on Police and Emergency Management.

This first response plan strengthened the policy, legislative and operational architecture within Australia to combat organised crime. The National Organised Crime Response Plan 2015-17, will build on the successes of the first response plan, articulate a narrative on national efforts to combat serious and organised crime, and provide a national platform to progress high-value, practical initiatives.


Criminal History Information Sharing with New Zealand

The Prime Ministers of Australia and New Zealand agreed on 29 January 2012 to enhance sharing of criminal history information for employment vetting purposes. An initial six month trial with Queensland is planned. Information sharing to support border control and law enforcement will be accelerated.


Exchange of Criminal History Information for People Working with Children

In November 2008, COAG agreed to a 12 month trial program for inter-jurisdictional exchange of criminal history information for screening people working with children.

The trial concluded in March 2011. Following an independent evaluation of the trial, all jurisdictions signed an Inter-Governmental Agreement (IGA) to make the Exchange of Criminal History Information for People Working with Children arrangements permanent.  The IGA commenced in September 2013.

The exchange has increased the range of criminal history information shared between jurisdictions. It is an important part of the strategy, which aims to protect children from harm.


Protecting Children From Abuse and Neglect

On 30 April 2009, governments endorsed the National Framework for Protecting Australia’s Children 2009-2020. The framework aims to achieve a substantial and sustained reduction in child abuse and neglect in Australia over time.

There is improved information sharing on children and families at risk, and measures to help locate children when their whereabouts are unknown.

Vulnerable families receive additional help to care for their children before a crisis occurs. Children at risk of abuse and neglect receive more intensive support and better access to early intervention and prevention services, including quality child care.

The Framework’s second three-year action plan was agreed in April 2012 and will focus on strengthening partnerships between government and the community sector to improve access to services for vulnerable children and their families.


Reducing Violence Against Women and Children

In 2011, COAG endorsed the National Plan to Reduce Violence against Women and their Children 2010-2022. The National Plan is being driven through a series of four three‐year Action Plans. The Commonwealth, States and Territories are working together to implement the National Plan.

Details of the actions to be taken against the strategies in the National Plan are provided in implementation plans developed by each jurisdiction.


Australia-New Zealand National Counter-Terrorism Committee

In October 2002, Australia revised its National Counter-Terrorism Arrangements and through an Intergovernmental Agreement established the National Counter-Terrorism Committee (NCTC). The Committee comprised senior police and First Minister’s department representatives from the States and Territories, and senior officials from relevant Commonwealth agencies.

In January 2012, the Australian and New Zealand Prime Ministers agreed to invite New Zealand to move from observers to members of the Committee to encourage closer strategic dialogue on matters of bilateral interest relevant to counter terrorism. To reflect this change in membership, the Committee was retitled the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee (ANZCTC) in October 2012.

The ANZCTC reports to COAG and maintains its role of contributing to the security of the Australian and New Zealand communities through the coordination of cooperative frameworks to counter terrorism and its consequences. Accordingly, New Zealand’s membership of the Committee ensures the closest possible coordination and cooperation regarding matters of bilateral interest on countering terrorism and encourage closer strategic dialogue on relevant matters.

The Prime Minister announced the start of the COAG Review of Counter-Terrorism Legislation on 8 August 2012. The ANZCTC provided support to this Review, and COAG agreed the response to the COAG Review of Counter-Terrorism Legislation at its 10 October 2014 meeting.

More information on the objectives of the ANZCTC and Australia's counter-terrorism arrangements is available on the National Security Website.