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This paper provides a single consolidated picture of the capabilities that enable Australia to achieve national security outcomes in a range of environments, including domestically, at the border, offshore and in cyberspace.


The period since 2001 has been transformative for Australia’s national security and our national security challenges continue to evolve. To meet these challenges, we need new ways to coordinate and develop our capability and to shape the national security environment.

Significant advances have been made in recent years to build greater collaboration and interoperability across the national security community. However, the increasing complexity of national security threats requires an even more consistent and connected approach to capability planning that complements existing individual agency arrangements.

To that end, the Government has developed a security classified National Security Capability Plan to provide a single consolidated picture of the capabilities that enable Australia to achieve national security outcomes.

This Guide offers an overview of Australia’s national security capability planning. It identifies the functions performed by the national security community and how these achieve the objectives outlined in the National Security Strategy (2013).

Capability planning is one of the tools that support Government to better consider how capabilities can be directed to meet national security objectives. This ensures that capability investment is focussed and that Government can give appropriate consideration to redirecting existing capabilities to meet new or emerging risks and opportunities. It also highlights areas where agencies’ capabilities are interdependent, identifying focus areas for collaboration and interoperability.

Having a better understanding of our capabilities will help us to make more informed decisions about what we need.

Australia’s national security arrangements are underpinned by a number of agencies working across areas such as diplomacy, defence, development, border protection, law enforcement and intelligence. Australia’s national security agencies include:

  • Attorney-General’s Department (AGD)
  • Australian Agency for International Development (AusAID)
  • Australian Crime Commission (ACC)
  • Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (ACBPS)
  • Australian Federal Police (AFP)
  • Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)
  • Australian Secret Intelligence Service (ASIS)
  • Australian Geospatial-Intelligence Organisation (AGO)
  • Australian Signals Directorate (ASD)
  • Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry (DAFF)
  • Department of Defence (Defence)
  • Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT)
  • Department of Health and Ageing (DoHA)
  • Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC)
  • Department of Infrastructure and Transport (DIT)
  • Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C)
  • Office of National Assessments (ONA).

The Capability Plan brings together, for the first time, a single view of the capabilities maintained by these agencies with the exception of Defence capabilities. Defence has a separate established capability planning process that includes the Defence White Paper (2013) and Defence Capability Plan (2012). Defence is a key contributor to Australia’s national security arrangements including leading the coordination and delivery of national security science and technology and works in close cooperation with other national security agencies. Defence capabilities will continue to be managed through existing mechanisms, principally the Defence Capability Plan.

For the first time, the Capability Plan, and the accompanying Guide to Australia’s National Security Capability, presents a unified picture of the capabilities that exist across non-Defence national security agencies. Together with other strategic planning tools, this work informs the broader national security planning cycle and supports the objectives and implementation of overarching policy documents such as the National Security Strategy and the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper.

The Capability Plan complements the Defence Capability Plan and does not seek to duplicate it.

It should also be noted that the Guide has not been designed to signal specific initiatives or tender opportunities. Such processes will continue to be managed by individual agencies.

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