The Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force – Operational Enforcement Arm

07 February 2018

On 20 December 2017, the Home Affairs Portfolio was established. The Portfolio includes the Department of Home Affairs (the Department) and encompasses Australia’s national and transport security, federal law enforcement, criminal justice, cybersecurity, border, immigration, multicultural affairs, emergency management, and trade related functions.

The Minister for Home Affairs, who has a dual role as the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, is supported by the Minister for Law Enforcement and Cybersecurity and the Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs.

The Department of Home Affairs Portfolio supports a “federation” of independent security and law enforcement agencies, including the Australian Border Force (as Australia’s front-line border law enforcement agency), the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

These changes reflect the ongoing commitment by the Australian Government to protect and manage Australia’s borders at a time of heightened border security and law enforcement concerns.

Australian Border Force responsibilities

As the front-line border law enforcement agency, the Australian Border Force has responsibility for Compliance and Regulation including:

  1. Sponsorship monitoring and compliance with sponsorship obligations
  2. Border protection command operations
  3. Character consideration
  4. Compliance assessment
  5. Case management
  6. Identity
  7. Investigation
  8. Removals
  9. Status resolution
  10. Surveillance operations
  11. Targeted enforcement operations

A new era in protecting Australia’s borders

The new Department is the agency responsible for all aspects of border and immigration, heralding a new era in protecting and managing Australia’s borders.

In this new regulatory environment, the authority and reach of the Department has been significantly expanded. At the same time, the Department continues its robust regulatory reforms to ensure regulatory compliance with a range of penalties and sanctions for breach.

The Department together with the Australian Border Force employs sophisticated risk assessments through visa programs, and works with other government agencies and international partners to ensure compliance and deliver enforcement outcomes.

The Australian Border Force Commissioner has significant powers held concurrently with the Secretary of the Department and the same standing as other heads of key national security related agencies, such as the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police.

The Department has extensive powers to conduct its work in enforcing Australia’s sovereignty at the border through the application of Australia’s immigration and criminal laws.

Helping our clients navigate the new enforcement landscape

Apart from the raft of regulatory initiatives and reviews which the Department continues to undertake, and which individuals and businesses must navigate, the level of regulatory scrutiny and enforcement activity has increased substantially.

This is evident from the number of actions brought by regulatory and enforcement bodies including the Department and Fair Work Ombudsman and the scale of penalties and fines imposed in respect of breaches of the law.

Given the changing immigration landscape, BDO Migration Services keeps abreast of the changing regulatory environment and assists ourclients to ensure compliance and avoid financial penalties and reputational damage in cases of breach.

BDO Migration Services is focused on best practice, which means that we can provide our local and international clients with the best possible levels of service and as recognised leaders in the field.