About the Security Clearance process

How do I know if I need a security clearance?

Security clearances are only required for government employees and contractors who, as part of their work for the Australian Government, need to access classified information.

When you start a new job or contract you should be advised by your employer whether or not the position you will be working in requires you to have a security clearance. If you are unsure about the requirements of your position, you should contact your supervisor or security adviser/officer.

Why are security clearances necessary?

Misuse or mishandling of classified information, whether deliberate or accidental, can have serious consequences for the Australian Government. For this reason the Australian Government needs to be sure that people who have access to classified information can be relied on to respect and protect that information appropriately.

The security clearance process is one of the mechanisms used to ensure classified information is only entrusted to suitable people who demonstrate a proper appreciation of their protective security responsibilities and obligations.

What is the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA)?

The AGSVA is an Australian Government agency with responsibility for delivering security vetting services on behalf of the Australian Government. The AGSVA is based within, and run by, the Department of Defence.

What does the security clearance process involve?

The following table outlines the step-by-step process for obtaining a security clearance.

STEP

WHO

WHAT

1

Security adviser/officer

Submit clearance request to the AGSVA (SVA001)

2

AGSVA

Create a clearance E-Pack

3

AGSVA

Forward first half of the E-Pack password to vettee and second half to security adviser/officer

4

Security adviser/officer

Forward the second half of the E-Pack password to the vettee

5

Vettee

Combine the two half passwords to create the complete password  and use this to access your E-Pack

6

Vettee

Complete and electronically submit your E-Pack to the AGSVA

7

Vettee

Complete and submit supporting paperwork to the AGSVA

8

AGSVA

Process the application

9

AGSVA

Send confirmatory email sent to security adviser/security officer

10

AGSVA

Send confirmatory email to vettee

 

What do I do if I don't want to undergo a security clearance process?

If you do not wish to undergo a Commonwealth security clearance process you should contact your security adviser/officer.

Getting a Security Clearance

How do I get a security clearance?

The initial request for a security clearance will need to be made by your security adviser/officer.

They do this by completing and submitting a 'Request for a Security Clearance' form (SVA001) to the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA).

If you are not yet employed by an Australian Government Agency, the Agency for whom you will be working may initiate a request prior to your starting work. You cannot initiate the request yourself, this must be done by the Agency security adviser/officer.

If you are an external service provider contracted to do work for an Australian Government Agency a request for you, or your employees, for a security clearance will be made by the relevant Agency on your behalf.

How will I know if the request for my clearance has been received by the AGSVA?

The first sign that a request has been received is when you and your security adviser/officer receive an email from the AGSVA advising that we have generated your E-Pack—that is the security clearance pack you need to complete to apply for a clearance.

Included in your email will be the first half of a password required to access your E-Pack. The second half of the E-Pack password will be contained in the email sent to your security adviser/officer. You will need to combine these two halves into one password in order to access your E-Pack.

How do I submit my E-Pack and supporting paperwork to the AGSVA?

Completed E-Packs are submitted electronically to the AGSVA. This is done by clicking on the submit button at the end of your E-Pack. E-Packs can only be successfully submitted if they have been correctly filled out, ie you will be unable to submit an E-Pack if it is missing information or if certain fields have been incorrectly filled out.

Supporting paperwork can be sent to the AGSVA via email (for scanned documents), regular mail or fax. Faxing is the least preferred method as poor quality faxes can make the documents illegible. Please see section below Supporting documentation/certified documents/referees for more information.

How long do I have to complete my E-Pack and provide the AGSVA with the necessary supporting paperwork?

The sooner the AGSVA receives your completed E-Pack and supporting paperwork the sooner we can begin processing your clearance.

To ensure timely processing of your clearance, the AGSVA requests that you complete and submit your E-Pack and provide all the necessary supporting paperwork within 28 days from when your E-Pack is generated—that is 28 days from when you receive your E-Pack account login details.

What happens if I don’t complete the E-Pack and provide the necessary supporting paperwork within 28 days?

If you don’t complete your E-Pack within 28 days, you and your agency will be sent an email requesting the outstanding information be provided and warning that you are at risk of having your security clearance application process cancelled.

A minimum of three email warnings will be sent. Failure to provide the outstanding information will result in your clearance process being cancelled.

If at any time during the security clearance process extenuating circumstances prevail, you can ask your security adviser/officer to contact the AGSVA Client Service Centre (CSC) to request a time extension. Requests for extensions can only be made by security advisers/officers.

I've received an E-Pack expiry warning even though I’ve sent in my E-Pack and supporting paperwork. What should I do?

If you submitted your E-Pack and supporting paperwork in the seven business days prior to receiving the expiry warning, please disregard the warning.

The E-Pack expiry warnings are automatically generated and it could be that your information has been received but is waiting to be processed. Depending on demand, this may take up to seven working days.

If you keep receiving expiry warnings or have any concerns please contact the AGSVA CSC on t: 1800 640 450 or e: securityclearances@defence.gov.au.

Who will process my security clearance?

The AGSVA is responsible for managing the security clearance process, including processing security clearances. To assist them process clearances as quickly as possible, the AGSVA is also able to call upon the services of a panel of government-approved vetting companies. The vetting panel comprises:

Barringtons
Cogent
Crown Vetting
DTZ a UGL company
Hughes Assessments
Kathy Baker
Key Vetting Services
Kibbey Liaison Services
Michael Charles
Mitchell Personnel Solutions
National Vetting Services
Oz Vetting Services
Personnel Assurance Consulting
PerSec Solutions
Premier Protection (Aust)
Risk & Continuity Mgt
RISQ Group
Ruswin Vetting Services
Sirras
Staff Check
Vetting Solutions Australia

If any of these companies make contact with you, it would be in your best interest to co-operate. Please be assured all staff employed by these vetting companies have been through a strict selection process and hold appropriate level clearances to conduct vetting on behalf of the AGSVA.

How can I check the bona fides of the person contacting me about my clearance?

If you have any concerns about the individual who is contacting you in regard to your clearance you can check the bona fides of the contact by contacting the AGSVA CSC on on t: 1800 640 450 or e: securityclearances@defence.gov.au

What do I do if I no longer wish to continue with my clearance?

Vettees are unable to cancel their security clearance process. Therefore, if you do not wish to continue with the Commonwealth security clearance process you should contact your security adviser/officer.

How can I confirm the status of my security clearance process?

Vettees can confirm the status of their security clearance process by contacting the AGSVA CSC on t: 1800 640 450 or e: securityclearances@defence.gov.au.

How will I know if my clearance has been granted?

You will receive a letter via email confirming that your clearance has been granted and outlining your rights and responsibilities.

The security adviser/officer who completed your initial clearance request form will also receive a confirming email when a clearance has been granted.

Can I appeal if the AGSVA does not grant or continue my clearance after a review?

Yes. The appeal process is slightly different for government employees, members of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) and contractors.

  • APS and other government employees: In the first instance, the avenue of appeal is to write to the Secretary of Defence. If you are not satisfied with the response a complaint can be submitted to the APS Commission requesting a review of the decision.

  • ADF members: In the first instance, appeals should be handled via the normal channels of redress as outlined in Defence Instruction – General – Personnel 34-1. If you are not satisfied with the response a complaint can be submitted to the Defence Force Ombudsman requesting a review of the decision.

  • Contractors: In the first instance, the avenue of appeal is to write to the Secretary of Defence. If you are not satisfied with the response a complaint can be submitted to the Commonwealth Ombudsman requesting a review of the decision.

The security assessment provided by ASIO is also subject to appeal through the Administrative Appeals Tribunal. Further information on this process can be provided by the AGSVA if required.

The E-Pack

How can I get my password to the E-Pack system reset?

All password reset requests should be requested from the AGSVA CSC on t: 1800 640 450 or e: securityclearances@defence.gov.au.

Who do I contact if I need help with my E-Pack?

All E-Pack–related questions should be directed to the AGSVA CSC. The CSC will be able to assist vettees complete their E-Packs and address any other questions they may have.

How do I get an extension on my E-Pack?

Requests for extensions can only be made by security advisers/officers.

If as a result of extenuating circumstances you need more time to complete your E-Pack you will need to ask your security officer to contact the AGSVA CSC to request a time extension on your behalf.

Please be aware that if your agency previously asked for priority treatment for your clearance, the granting of a time extension will negate the priority request.

Supporting documentation/certified documents/referees

What supporting documentation do I need to provide?

The documents required to support a Commonwealth security clearance application will vary depending on a person’s individual situation. For example married people will be required to provide certified copies of their marriage certificate, and people born overseas will be required to provide proof of citizenship.

The E-Pack system has been developed to create E-Packs tailored to a vettee's individual situation. The documents you will be required to provide will be listed at the end of your E-Pack in a section entitled 'Schedule of Requirements'.

How can supporting documentation be submitted to the AGSVA?

The AGSVA will accept legible scanned, faxed or mailed copies of supporting documentation.

Scanned copies must be fully legible including the indentifying information of any signatory or certifying official.

Faxing is the least preferred method as poor quality faxes can make the documents illegible. If documents are being faxed please ensure that the fax was successfully sent.

Supporting documentation needs to be sent to the AGSVA's National Coordination Centre:

  • Mail:

    • Free post (ie no stamp required): Reply Paid 84658, Spring Hill QLD 4004

    • Registered mail or Express Post: Locked Bag 2600, Spring Hill QLD 4004

  • Email: agsva.ncc@defence.gov.au (for scanned documents).

  • Fax: 07 3233 4322

Do I need to print and send a complete copy of my E-Pack with my supporting documentation?

No. There are only four hardcopy pages of the E-Pack you need to send with your supporting documentation. These are:

  • SVA084: National Police Check Application

  • SVA022: Official Secrecy Acknowledgment

  • SVA024: General Consent Form

  • SVA041: Statutory Declaration

What do I do if my personal documents are in a language other than English?

Where personal documentation is in a language other than English you must seek a translation of the document from a National Accreditation Authority for Translators and Interpreters (NAATI) accredited provider. You must provide originals of translations in addition to originals, or certified true copies of the translated document.

A list of NAATI accredited providers can be found on their website: www.naati.com.au.

Who can certify my documents?

A full list of eligible people to certify documents can be found on the Attorney General's website by following the link 'statutory declaration form' under the heading 'Australia's legal and justice system'.

This list is quite extensive, some people commonly used from the list are:

  • Justice of the Peace

  • Police Officer

  • Member of the Australian Defence Force who is: an officer; or a non-commissioned officer within the meaning of the Defence Force Discipline Act 1982 with five or more years of continuous service; or a warrant officer within the meaning of that Act.

  • A permanent employee of the Commonwealth or a Commonwealth authority; or a state or territory or a state or territory authority; or a local government authority; with five or more years of continuous service who is not specified in another item in this list.

Who can sign my Statutory Declaration?

A full list of eligible people to sign statutory declarations can be found on the Attorney General's website by following the link 'statutory declaration form' under the heading 'Australia's legal and justice system'.

Who can witness my documents?

Documents must be witnessed by a person who either knows the executing party personally or is satisfied as to their identity.

The witness must be a person aged 18 years or more and not named in the document they are witnessing. Under their signature, the witness has to legibly print their full name and address and provide a telephone number at which they can be contacted during business hours.

Who can I use as a personal referee?

Personal referees should be over the age of 18, know you socially and have a good knowledge of you and your lifestyle. This may be a work colleague, a neighbour or a friend but not a family member or relative.

As a guide—and where possible—a personal referee should have known you personally for a period exceeding two years. Ideally a personal referee would have knowledge of you in variety of settings.

The number of personal referees and the length of referee coverage required (ie checkable history period) varies depending on the level of clearance you are applying for.

Negative Vetting Level 1 clearance: for a Negative Vetting 1 clearance, we need personal referees who can provide checkable history covering the previous 10 years. This means you can use:

  • One referee who has known you for the last 10 years (although it is preferable to provide at least 2 referees), or
  • Two or more referees who have known you for consecutive periods covering the last 10 years. An example to illustrate follows:
    • John Smith, Jan 2001–Jan 2004 (3 years)
    • Joe White Jan, 2004–Jan 2007 (3 years)
    • Emily Black, Jan 2007–Jan 2011 (4 years).

Negative Vetting Level 2 clearances: for Negative Vetting 2 clearances, we need a minimum of two personal referees who can provide checkable history covering the previous 10 years. This means you can use:

  • Two referees who have known you for the last 10 years, or
  • Two referees who have known you for consecutive periods covering the last 10 years An example to illustrate follows:
    • John Smith, Jan 2001–Jan 2006 (5 years)
    • Joe White, Jan 2006–Jan 2011 (5 years), or
  • Three or more personal referees who have known you for consecutive periods covering the last 10 years An example to illustrate follows:
    • John Smith, Jan 2001–Jan 2004 (3 years)
    • Joe White, Jan 2004–Jan 2007 (3 years)
    • Emily Black, Jan 2007–Jan 2011 (4 years).

Positive Vetting clearances: for Positive Vetting clearances, we need a minimum of four personal referees who can provide checkable history covering the whole of your life.

For your early life these should be referees who know your family background and childhood history, such as:

  • Family friends
  • Neighbours
  • Teachers
  • School friends

For your adult life, your personal referees should know you socially and have a good knowledge of you and your lifestyle, such as:

  • Good friends
  • Neighbours
  • Work colleagues

What if I cannot provide the documents that need to be submitted with my clearance pack?

If you cannot provide certain documents you should submit the reasons on a statutory declaration and submit it with your other documentation to the AGSVA. Please note that a statutory declaration can only be used as a substitute for documents that are genuinely unavailable.

Why has my paperwork been returned to me?

Your paperwork and documents will only be returned to you if they were submitted incomplete, without the correct certification or your paperwork was not signed or witnessed correctly. You will need to return the corrected paperwork back to the AGSVA within 14 days.

If you are unable to supply the information, you will need to contact the AGSVA CSC for further advice by email securityclearances@defence.gov.au or calling 1800 640 450.

Maintaining your Security Clearance

What aftercare actions need to be taken once I have been granted a security clearance?

Once someone has been granted a security clearance there are a number of aftercare actions that need to happen to maintain the integrity of the Commonwealth's vetting process.

The table below summarises the aftercare actions required and who is responsible for them.

ACTION REQUIRED PERSON RESPONSIBLE

1. Reporting changes in circumstances

  • Vettee using a SVA003 form (DOC) accessed from the AGSVA website, or

  • Security adviser/officer using a SVA004 form

2. Updating employer details if the vettee transfers to another agency

  • Security adviser/officer of the 'gaining' agency (ie new employer) using a SVA001

3. Submitting a Declaration of Secrecy on Cessation of Duty when leaving the employ of the Commonwealth

  • Vettee using a SVA007

4. Revalidation of all existing security clearances below Positive Vetting level

  • The AGSVA

5. Re-evaluation of Positive Vetting security clearances

  • The AGSVA

Why do changes of circumstances need to be reported to the AGSVA?

Security clearances are based on an assessment of personal circumstances at the time of the vetting. Changes to a vettee's personal situation could impact their security clearance and need to be reported to help maintain the integrity of the Commonwealth’s vetting process.

Information about the types of changes in circumstances that need to be reported can be found on the Reporting Changes of Circumstances page.

How do I report changes in my personal circumstances?

Vettees need to complete and submit a SVA003 form (DOC) and send it to the email address on the form.

Do I need to report overseas travel to the AGSVA?

Residence in, or visits to, foreign countries.  Countries of significance may vary dependant on the clearance holder’s role and his or her agency’s responsibilities.  By reporting all visits to foreign countries the AGSVA can determine the significance

If you experience a security incident or contact of security concern while travelling, you will need to report this to the AGSVA using the SVA003 form ( DOC).

Reviews (Revalidations/Re-Evaluations) of Security Clearances

When will the AGSVA review my clearance?

The following table outlines the timeframes for when clearances are due for review (ie revalidation or re-evaluation).

  Baseline clearance Neg Vetting 1
clearance
Neg Vetting 2
clearance
Positive Vetting clearance
Re-validation 15 yrs 10 yrs 5 yrs 2.5 yrs
(or annual security appraisal)
Re-evaluation No No No 5 years

Please note: A review for cause (ie assessment of a vettee's suitability to hold a clearance) may be initiated at anytime outside the normal review timeframes by the AGSVA or at the request of the sponsoring agency.

Who is responsible for initiating clearance reviews?

The AGSVA is responsible for initiating and managing the revalidation and revaluation process. The AGSVA will contact you when you are required to undergo a review.

While you do not need to request a revalidation or re-evaluation of your clearance, you do need to ensure that the AGSVA has your correct contact details so it can locate you when your clearance is due to be reviewed—if the AGSVA cannot locate you when your review is due, your clearance may be cancelled.

Do I need to provide previously submitted documents for my clearance review?

No. You will only need to provide documents that have been generated by circumstances in your life since your previous clearance action. However, in certain circumstances, the AGSVA may require you to provide previously submitted documents during the vetting review process.

AGSVA Contacts and Information

Who can I contact for further assistance or information?

All questions relating to the clearance process and individual security clearances should be directed to the:

AGSVA Client Service Centre (CSC)
t: 1800 640 450
e: securityclearances@defence.gov.au

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