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. This includes the Department of Home Affairs which includes national and transport security, federal law enforcement, criminal justice, cybersecurity, border protection, immigration, multicultural affairs, emergency management, and trade functions.

Communication and consultation on accountabilities, responsibilities and outcomes within risk management policy enables a common understanding of risk.

Establishing and maintaining appropriate risk management policies and procedures are essential to support the business’s strategic plans and objectives, mitigate risk and implement the risk management framework by having clear accountabilities and responsibilities for managing risk.

The Board and senior management as the accountable authority must endorse and oversight the broader enterprise risk management system across the organisation as a whole.

BDO Migration Services, an incorporated immigration legal practice provides strategic, expert and practical advice in all aspects of visa and migration related requirements.

The Department of Home Affairs Portfolio supports a “federation” of independent security and law enforcement agencies. This includes the Australian Border Force (as Australia’s frontline 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.

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.

The establishment of the Home Affairs Portfolio, which includes the Department of Home Affairs as the agency responsible for all aspects of border and immigration, heralds a new era in protecting and managing Australia’s borders.

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

The Department of Home Affairs 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 of Home Affairs and the same standing as other heads of key national security related agencies, such as the Commissioner of the Australian Federal Police.

The Department of Home Affairs 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.

Apart from the raft of regulatory initiatives and reviews which the Department of Home Affairs 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 of Home Affairs and Fair Work Ombudsman and the scale of penalties and fines imposed in respect of breaches of the law.

BDO Migration Services keeps abreast of the changing regulatory environment so as to assist clients 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 leaders in the field.