Security clearance | ACMA

Security clearance

Some positions at the ACMA require you to have a security clearance.

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
  • are willing to comply with the standards that safeguard those resources against misuse.

Am I eligible for a security clearance?

Australian security clearances are normally only granted to Australian citizens whose backgrounds can be checked for the required period of five years for baseline clearances, 10 years for negative vetting clearances and whole of life for positive vetting level clearances.

You must have Australian citizenship to be eligible for a security clearance. In exceptional circumstances, your agency head may waive this requirement if the risks can be mitigated.

What level of security clearance do I need?

The level of security clearance that you require will depend on the level of classified information you will have to access in your position, that is, 'your need-to-know'. The requirement for a security clearance is not based on rank or seniority.

What are current security clearance levels?

There have been changes to security clearance levels. The following table shows the previous and current security clearance levels:

Previous clearance level

Current clearance level

PROTECTED

Baseline Vetting

CONFIDENTIAL

-

HIGHLY PROTECTED

-

SECRET

Negative Vetting Level 1

TOP SECRET (NV) Negative Vetting Level 2

Negative Vetting Level 2

TOP SECRET (PV)

Positive Vetting

How does the clearance process work?

The Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA) conducts personnel security clearances on behalf of the ACMA. All Australian government agencies undertaking the clearance process must comply with the requirements prescribed in the Protective Security Policy Framework (PSPF) and Australian Government Personnel Security Protocol (PERSEC Protocol).

You will be asked to complete a security package containing a range of questionnaires. The level of clearance you require will determine the number and complexity of these 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.

You will also be required to provide supporting documentation as part of the security clearance process. For a list of the documents that may be required, please refer to Attachment A—Documents required for a security clearance at the bottom of this page.

Who decides if my 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 delegate who may:

  • make a determination in accordance with the recommendation
  • choose to ignore the recommendation
  • request the assessing officer seek additional information before making a determination.

What is 'need-to-know'?

To protect the security of classified resources, the government has decided that only 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'.

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 you 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.

What about my privacy?

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.

Can my personal information be accessed?

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 your 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.

Additional information

For additional information on the security clearance process or requirements, please contact the ACMA's Agency Security Adviser on (02) 6219 5219.

Attachment A - Documents required for security clearance

Document

Purpose

Full birth certificate

A prime means to identify clearance applicant that:

  • 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.

Deed poll

A legal document that:

  • advises a formal change of name
  • states the previous name and the current name.

Citizenship certificate

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 the Department of Immigration & Citizenship.

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.

You do not need to provide other evidence of previous marriages if you provide divorce papers (decree nisi or decree absolute).

Travel or residency documents

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.

Current driver's licence

Helps corroborate the clearance subject's identity, as well as evidence of current, and possibly previous, residential addresses.

Also required for police check.

Evidence of current residential address

Establishing the current and previous residential addresses will assist in further corroborating his or her 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
  • rental agreements
  • land titles
  • personal documentation such as a driver's licences.

If other personal documents provided are sufficient evidence of your residential address, additional documents are not required.

Educational documentation

Courses taken during the required checking period can help when cross-referencing past and present addresses, periods of unemployment and overseas travel.

For copies of missing academic qualifications, contact the appropriate educational facility.

Evidence of previous employment

If previous employer checks are not possible, employment documentation will assist in corroborating employment history, for example, pay slips, group certificates. Employment history may corroborate personal information, including, for example, qualifications and travel history.

Assessing officers must by law obliterate tax file numbers on the PSF copy.

Discharge certificate or military service record

Provides details about the clearance subject's service in the armed forces—helps check identity and confirm employment.

Recent photograph

To corroborate the validity of identity documentation that contains photographic identification of the clearance subject, and to assist identify applicant to referees.

Last updated: 29 August 2016