Last updated
28 January 2021

Physical security of offices

The Physical and Major Event Security Section of the Department of Home Affairs provides advice to MaPS on physical security for the offices of all federal parliamentarians and former prime ministers. 

This includes setting the minimum physical security control guidelines that MaPS use in the design of electorate office fitouts.

Some of the measures organised and installed by MaPS include:

  • secure reception counters
  • keys/swipe cards and programming of access systems
  • duress and intruder alarms
  • CCTV cameras
  • alarm security monitoring.

Your MaPS state or territory office will supply you and your staff, volunteers and cleaners with an individually coded swipe card, key or access code. If there is an alarm activation, security patrols will respond accordingly.

Security of employees, volunteers and visitors

Parliamentarians have key responsibilities for ensuring the safety of employees, volunteers and visitors at their offices.

Australian Federal Police (AFP) Protection Liaison teams for each state and territory regularly visit electorate offices and provide advice and alerts to parliamentarians and their staff, including your MaPS state or territory office.  Australian Federal Police Protection Liaison (AFP-PL) provide protective security where required. Contact your relevant PL team for issues such as protest activity, threatening behaviour or harassment, including phone calls, emails and social media. Any incident that affects the health and safety of staff should be reported to the WHS and occupational rehabilitation services provider. For further information contact your relevant MaPS state or territory office.

Reporting lost or stolen items

To report the loss, damage or theft of equipment or assets provided by MaPS, complete Form 152 - lost/stolen/damaged property report (see related resources) and email to your MaPS state or territory office.

Loss, damage or theft of computers, laptops, printers, smartphones or other IT equipment must be reported to ParlICT, Department of Parliamentary Services.

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, Deputy 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
    • the warden responsible for the building or section of the building in which the office is located.

Managing protest activity

During the election period, staff may experience and increase in the risk of instances of workplace violence or aggression, due to gatherings or protest activity. The below scenarios offer guidance to Parliamentarians and their staff on managing various types of protest activity to minimise risk of injury or incident. Emergency Officers (EOs) are trained in responding to these activities, and will be able to provide assistance and guidance on appropriate responses to instances of protest activity in and around the office.

To plan ahead, Emergency Officers should:

  • make sure everyone in the office is familiar with the below advice and knows what to do if there is protest activity occurring in or around the workplace.
  • consult with staff to develop an action plan and contact lists suitable for the individual circumstances of the office.
  • ensure everyone in the office is aware of who occupies the Emergency Officer and Deputy Emergency Officer roles.
  • ensure everyone in the office is familiar with the emergency evacuation plan and the location of duress alarms.
  • ensure everyone in the office is familiar with the location of the local police station and where possible establish a working relationship
  • consult with local police and the relevant MaPS state or territory manager if there is a suspicion that protest activity is being planned.

Peaceful Demonstrations

Peaceful and non-obstructive demonstrations should not be interrupted, obstructed or provoked.

In the event of a non-violent disruptive disturbance, the following steps should be taken:

  • inform the Emergency Officer and Chief Warden, and
  • if feasible, discreetly make note of information that pertains to the size, leadership, location & intention of the group.

Violent Disturbances and/or Unlawful Entry

If urgent police attendance is required call Triple Zero (000) and use the duress alarm.

If an office experiences interference with the normal operations of the organisation, or the prevention of access to the facility; threats of harm to occupants or property; or unlawful entry of the premises, staff should:

  • inform the Emergency Officer (EO) or Chief Warden (in multi-tenanted sites),
  • inform the police,
  • notify the MaPS state or territory manager, who will liaise with building management if required,
  • report the incident to Skytrust; and
  • follow instructions from the Emergency Officer, or Deputy Emergency Officer.

The Emergency Officer should decide whether:

  • staff and visitors in public areas need to be moved to a more secure location,
  • access to the facility should be restricted,
  • an emergency response procedure should be initiated,
  • monies, valuable items and critical records are to be secured, or
  • objects which could potentially be used as weapons are removed.

If the Emergency Officer, Parliamentarian, or other authorised person, decides to prevent people from entering the office, staff should:

  • lock the entrance and not open it until it is safe to do so.
  • remain within a secure part of the office and not let any unauthorised persons enter that area.
  • avoid agitating demonstrators or making the situation worse, and
  • advise expected visitors and any staff who are out of the office not to approach the office until it is safe to do so.

During a demonstration

If urgent police attendance is required call Triple Zero (000) and use your duress alarm.

If police are not already aware of the demonstration notify:

  • your local police
  • the Australian Federal Police (AFP) Protection Liaison Team
  • your MaPS state or territory manager, who will liaise with Home Affairs and building management if required.

Ensure that you and your staff:

  • assess the situation. If you decide to prevent people from entering the office, you should lock the front door early and not open it until it is safe to do so
  • remain within the secure part of the office and do not let unauthorised persons enter that area
  • do not do anything that could agitate demonstrators or make the situation worse
  • advise expected visitors and any staff who are out of the office not to approach the office until it is safe to do so.

If protestors ask you or your staff to accept an item

It is not recommended that letters, petitions or other physical items be accepted in person. Staff should arrange for these items to be delivered electronically to the office at a later date.

If a member of the public behaves in an unacceptable manner

If the AFP or your local police are present, consult with the officers on the ground.

If police are not present when a member of the public behaves in an unacceptable manner and you consider it necessary for the person to leave the premises, you should:

  • try to communicate clearly and calmly with the person, from the secure area of the office if possible
  • initially seek the person's cooperation by asking them to cease the behaviour
  • warn the person that they could be required to leave the premises immediately if the behaviour continues
  • if the behaviour continues, advise the person that due to the behaviour you are withdrawing permission for him or her to be on the premises. Tell the person to leave. Warn the person that the police will be called if they remain on the premises
  • monitor the person's movements, and if it is safe to do so, accompany them until they have left the premises. Do not attempt to physically remove any person from the premises
  • if the person refuses to leave, or if you or any staff member feels unsafe or threatened in any way, you should activate a duress alarm immediately. If safe to do so, lock or shut-down your IT equipment, remove yourself to a safe location within the office and call 000. A call to 000 is useful so that attending police are aware of the situation that they are walking into, and to ensure that they are aware of the situation in case the duress alarm did not register.

After a demonstration

If there is any damage to the office or surrounding areas, do not disturb or clean up the site until the AFP or local police have attended and released the site.

Email photos of any damage to your MaPS state or territory manager.


Following the event it is important to discuss what happened with your staff and your MaPS state or territory manager to assist with safe management of future incidents.

Individual Employee Assistance Program counselling is available for all MOP(S) Act employees and their immediate family members. MaPS can arrange for a counsellor to attend your office to talk with staff as a group.

Information security

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.

It is your responsibility to ensure materials are stored securely within the office and sensitive or personal information, including staff records, is secured.

To protect confidential or sensitive information you should:

  • have an employee present at all times when the office is open
  • supervise visitors while in the office
  • not discuss sensitive or classified material using a mobile telephone, leave such information on a voicemail system, or send using email or SMS
  • use security features on communications devices where available, such as passwords and personal identification numbers, and not share these with other people
  • lock papers, documents, communications devices and data storage devices away when not in use and at the end of the day
  • secure cabinets, cupboards and major items of office equipment when the office is unoccupied
  • ensure any volunteers working in the office have their own computer user account and password
  • not share accounts or passwords with volunteers or other employees
  • secure computers with a password protected screen, or turn 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.

Your office procedures should prevent the unauthorised disclosure of information. This includes ensuring any personal and electorate employees consider and store sensitive information appropriately.

Data protection

Your office should maintain current backup copies of your computer-based files to protect data in the event of:

  • hard disc failure
  • accidental deletion of hard disc files
  • computer virus attack
  • natural disaster such as flood or fire
  • loss or theft of computer equipment.

Contact DPS’ 2020 Service Desk for assistance in backing up computer-based records and advice regarding the security of office data.

Offices at Parliament House

You can request to have the security arrangements in your office at Parliament House reviewed. Security officers in your portfolio department (if you are a Minister or Parliamentary Secretary) or House department (for all other parliamentarians) are responsible for ensuring that suitable security measures are implemented and maintained.

Physical security of residences

Where physical security is provided at your residence/s, it is primarily designed to protect you and your immediate family against the risk of politically-motivated violence. The protection of property from criminal activity remains your personal responsibility.

Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries

The Department of Home Affairs will provide, at Australian Government expense, an appropriate level of physical security at residence/s, commensurate with the assessed level of threat for Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries.

Leader or Deputy Leader of the Opposition in a House of the Parliament

The Department of Home Affairs monitors and, where appropriate, coordinates protective security arrangements, based on the assessed level of threat and risk to the Leader or Deputy Leader of the Opposition in a House of the Parliament.

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