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

As of 30 June 2022, the Department of Home Affairs Portfolio supports a “federation” of independent security and law enforcement agencies. It includes the Department of Home Affairs, the Australian Border Force, the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation, the Australian Federal Police, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission and the Office of the Special Investigator

The purpose of the Department of Home Affairs and Australian Border Force is to protect Australia from national security and criminal threats through effective national coordination, policy and strategy development, emergency management and regional cooperation.

It supports the coordination and delivery of immigration and social cohesion policies and programs.

The Border and Customs Operations advance trade and travel facilitation, effective customs, Immigration, maritime and enforcement activities across the border continuum.

The Australian Border Force is Australia’s frontline border law enforcement agency and the Department of Home Affairs independent operational enforcement arm.

The Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force bring together 13,846 staff based in Australia and across 42 cities around the world. 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 authority and reach of the Department of Home Affairs continues to significantly expand in a constantly changing global environment. The Department of Home Affairs, together with the Australian Border Force, employ 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 and the Chief of Australian Defence Forces.

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 continues to increase in response to emerging threats in a post-pandemic world.

The Department of Home Affairs and the Australian Border Force work collaboratively with other regulatory and enforcement bodies including the Fair Work Ombudsman and the Australian Taxation Office.

The Department of Home Affairs has significant power and reach including as to the scale of penalties and fines imposed in respect of breaches of the law.

BDO Migration Services keeps abreast of the changing regulatory environment to assist clients in compliance and avoiding financial penalties and reputational damage in cases of breach.

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