Safeguarding Australia’s Military Secrets legislation

The Safeguarding Australia’s Military Secrets (SAMS) legislation prevents people with sensitive Defence knowledge from training or working for some foreign governments and military organisations.

The legislation is designed to strengthen national security by protecting Australia’s military techniques, tactics and procedures. Offences will apply to individuals that do not comply with the requirements of the legislation.

The SAMS Act is closely aligned to the Defence Trade Controls Amendment (DTC) Act 2024, which protects the technology and information of Australia and its key partners.

SAMS legislation importance

Australia has world class defence training and military technology. Other countries want to gain a strategic advantage by acquiring the skills and knowledge our personnel learned while working with Defence. Australian needs to protect our secret and sensitive information, to ensure our region can remain secure.

The requirement for a foreign work authorisation (FWA) strengthens Australia's security by preventing individuals from disclosing or exploiting classified military or related information.

The legislation requires Australians to protect the secrets they learn while working with Defence, even if they are no longer connected to the Australian government.

SAMS legislation applicability

To protect Australia’s interests, the SAMS legislation requires some Australian citizens and permanent residents to request FWA. The authorisation may be required when working with a military organisation or government body of some foreign countries.

Authorisation is also required if work or training is undertaken:

  • through another company or organisation
  • as a contractor for a relevant foreign military or government body.

People meeting any of these criteria must have a FWA. They need the authorisation to work for, or on behalf of, a military or government body of a relevant foreign country.

The maximum validity period for a FWA is 3 years. Individuals requiring a longer period of authorisation need to request a new FWA before their previous authorisation expires.

The SAMS legislation affects a wide range of Australians, so it is important to understand if legal obligations may apply. To find out more information on who is required to submit a FWA, see the Authorisation requirements page.

SAMS legislation and explanatory memorandum

The following links contain more detailed information about the SAMS Act and how it may apply to individuals or organisations.