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Security - office and information

Overarching obligations

The Parliamentary Business Resources Act 2017 imposes overarching obligations.
The dominant purpose and value for money tests and specified conditions must be met. See s25, 26, 27, 28.
The Commonwealth is not liable to pay an expense or provide a public resource where you contravene any of these obligations (s29, PBR Act).

Security infrastructure

Ministerial and Parliamentary Services (MaPS) arranges security, including measures such as:

  • a secure reception counter
  • swipe cards
  • programming of access systems
  • duress and intruder alarms
  • security cameras

Installation is subject to the lease conditions and any relevant local government or State legislation, and taking into account value for money considerations.

Security of information

Certain information that is routinely collected and stored in offices should be regarded as confidential or sensitive, and protected accordingly. This includes employee details and any personal information provided by constituents. See Management of records for how your office should access, store and dispose of records, in particular sensitive records, and the necessity to distinguish between ‘official’ and ‘non official’ records for access and disposal purposes.

Arrangements that you can set in place to protect confidential or sensitive information include:

  • have an employee present at all times when the office is open
  • visitors should be supervised while in the office
  • sensitive or classified material should not be discussed using a mobile telephone, left on a voicemail system, or sent using email or SMS
  • security features on communications devices, such as passwords and personal identification numbers, should be used where available and should not be shared with other people
  • papers, documents, communications devices and data storage devices should be locked away when not in use and at the end of the day
  • cabinets, cupboards and major items of office equipment should be secured when the office is unoccupied
  • employees must ensure any volunteers working in the office have their own computer user account and password and must not use or share accounts or passwords with other volunteers or employees
  • computers should be secured with a password protected screen, or turned off, while unattended.

In keeping with the requirements of the Australian Government Information Security Manual all removable media (including external hard drives, USB drives, DVDs and CDs) should be registered with a unique identifier in an appropriate register to allow their movements to be tracked.

Hard drives in networked multi-function devices are the responsibility of the Department of Parliamentary Services, who will ensure their destruction as appropriate.

Incident reports

If your office:

  • is broken into, the security company will call the police and notify your office’s nominated contact
  • if you witness any suspicious incident, you or your staff should contact your Australian Federal Police liaison contact immediately.

In either case, report any damage to the contracted property services provider and your State Manager as soon as possible. To notify the loss, damage or theft of equipment or assets provided by MaPS, complete:

Each Senator and Member and all MOP(S) Act employees have a range of duties under Commonwealth WHS legislation.

You must report all incidents and near misses in line with the WHS advice provided.

A Notifiable Incident Flowchart is available to help determine which incidents need to be reported to Comcare. You must also notify your Ministerial and Parliamentary Services State Manager as soon as practicable.

See Insurance Cover for information on personal liability insurance and other types of insurance cover provided.

The Employee Assistance Program is available to provide individual counselling or group debriefing sessions following a critical incident. Group sessions can be arranged through your Advice and Support Director.

Contingency plans for emergency or security issues

Your office should:

  • have an internal contingency plan for dealing with emergency or security situations, including keeping an up-to-date list of emergency contact numbers (for example the police, ambulance, mental health teams, interpreter and counselling services);
  • ensure that the emergency officer and first aid officer roles within your office are filled and all training for these roles is up-to-date
  • be familiar with any formal emergency evacuation management plan applicable to building occupants, and comply with directions given by:
    • emergency services personnel
    • the emergency officer responsible for the office, and/or
    • a warden responsible for the building or section of the building in which the office is located.

Ministers and office holders

Minister

Residential security

The Department of Home Affairs will provide, at Australian Government expense, an appropriate level of residential physical security, commensurate with the assessed level of threat, for Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries. The security is designed primarily to protect you and your immediate family against the risk of politically-motivated violence.

The protection of property from criminal activity primarily remains your personal responsibility.

Office security

Information held in a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary’s office may include official documents that are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982, the Archives Act 1983 and the Privacy Act 1988, which place particular requirements on the use, disclosure and storage of information. Your office procedures should prevent the unauthorised disclosure of information. This includes ensuring that all personal and electorate employees receive and maintain a Negative Vetting Level 2 (formerly ‘TOP SECRET’) security clearance. For details see Management of records.

Offices in Parliament House

On request, security arrangements in your office in Parliament House will be reviewed. Security officers in your portfolio department are responsible for ensuring that suitable security measures are implemented and maintained.

Parliamentary Secretary

Residential security

The Department of Home Affairs will provide, at Australian Government expense, an appropriate level of residential physical security, commensurate with the assessed level of threat, for Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries. The security is designed primarily to protect you and your immediate family against the risk of politically-motivated violence.

The protection of property from criminal activity primarily remains your personal responsibility.

Office security

Information held in a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary’s office may include official documents that are subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982, the Archives Act 1983 and the Privacy Act 1988, which place particular requirements on the use, disclosure and storage of information. Your office procedures should prevent the unauthorised disclosure of information. This includes ensuring that all personal and electorate employees receive and maintain a Negative Vetting Level 2 (formerly ‘TOP SECRET’) security clearance. For details see Management of records.

Offices in Parliament House

On request, security arrangements in your office in Parliament House will be reviewed. Security officers in your portfolio department are responsible for ensuring that suitable security measures are implemented and maintained.

Presiding officer

Office security

In order to protect the wide range of information held in a presiding officer’s office, it is important that office procedures do not allow the unauthorised disclosure of information. Due care should be taken with the handling of papers and to ensure that the office is secure at all times. For details see Management of records.

Offices in Parliament House

On request, security arrangements in your office in Parliament House will be reviewed. Security officers in your department are responsible for ensuring that suitable security measures are implemented and maintained.

Senior office holder who is a member of the Opposition

Residential security

The Department of Home Affairs monitors and, where appropriate, coordinates protective security arrangements, based on the assessed level of threat and risk to senior office holders who are members of the Opposition. The security is designed primarily to protect you and your immediate family against the risk of politically-motivated violence. The protection of property from criminal activity primarily remains your personal responsibility.

Office security

In order to protect the wide range of information held in the office of a senior office holder who is a member of the Opposition, it is important that office procedures do not allow the unauthorised disclosure of information. Due care should be taken with the handling of papers and to ensure that the office is secure at all times. For details see Management of records.

Offices in Parliament House

On request, security arrangements in your office in Parliament House will be reviewed. Security officers in your House Department are responsible for ensuring that suitable security measures are implemented and maintained.

Leader of a minority party

Office security

In order to protect the wide range of information held in the leader of a minority party’s office, it is important that office procedures do not allow the unauthorised disclosure of information. Due care should be taken with the handling of papers and to ensure that the office is secure at all times. For details see Management of records.

Offices in Parliament House

On request, security arrangements in your office in Parliament House will be reviewed. Security officers in your House Department are responsible for ensuring that suitable security measures are implemented and maintained.

Last updated: 12 February 2020