Annual Report 2004-2005

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Your location: Performance > Outcome 1 > Output 1.2 > Reporting against effectiveness indicators

OUTPUT 1.2: Secure government communications and security of overseas missions

Reporting against effectiveness indicators

On this page: Overview :: Security of overseas missions :: Physical security :: Technical security :: Staff training :: Security clearances :: Information and communications security :: Information management and secure communications access


Photo - See caption below for description
Left to right: Departmental Staff Rebecca Geach, Jack McEwen and Ann Thirlaway. In December 2004 the department put the finishing touches to an exhibition of historical communications equipment. The exhibition marked the closure of the department's Communications Centre, which had played a key role in Australia's international relations since 1943 when Prime Minister Curtin directed the department to coordinate all official overseas cable traffic.
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

The department continued to attach the highest priority to the security of its overseas missions and the people who visit and work in them.

The bombing at the Australian embassy in Jakarta in September 2004 underlined the highly challenging security environment in which Australia's overseas missions operate. Following the Jakarta bombing, the Government approved a total additional funding package to Australian government agencies of $860 million to upgrade security at Australia's overseas missions. The package included departmental appropriation over four years of $238 million provided at the 2004–05 Additional Estimates and $99 million provided at Budget 2005–06. This decision enabled us to continue upgrading physical security at many of our overseas missions, in line with new standards, and to begin relocating other vulnerable missions.

Staff security awareness and practice remained a critical factor in managing security risks. For this reason, we continued to promote a high level of security awareness

and practice among staff in Canberra and at posts through training courses and regular advice.

The department's emergency consular communications systems underpinned the Government's rapid response to the tsunami crisis. As a result of experience gained through this crisis, we improved the crisis management capabilities of our consular information systems. We expanded links with partner agencies—Austrade, Centrelink, the Australian Federal Police and the Department of Immigration and Multicultural and Indigenous Affairs (DIMIA)—improved office-in-the-field capabilities, and enhanced data exchange mechanisms between the Passports Information System and DIMIA's Entry Operations Centre.

The department replaced its 20-year old electronic message system with the new Official Diplomatic Information Network (ODIN), which provided significantly faster delivery times. We closed our Communications Centre, which had operated for 61 years but was no longer required under the new system.

Security of overseas missions

The ongoing threat of global terrorism posed a significant challenge for the department in safeguarding the security of Australia's missions overseas. In addition to the attack on the Jakarta embassy in September 2004, there was a stream of direct and indirect terrorist threats to our missions and staff. The embassy in Jakarta temporarily closed following the bombing, and two other posts temporarily curtailed operations as a result of threats. All three posts subsequently resumed normal operations. Criminal violence remained a major threat for a number of posts.

In managing threats and prioritising funding to overseas missions, the department conducted regular security risk assessments of posts. In addition to providing ongoing security advice and assistance, we inspected physical security arrangements at 63 posts and helped review security at a number of Austrade posts. We ensured strict consistency between the advice we gave to posts and to the Australian public through consular travel advisories.

Following the September 2004 bombing, the Government decided to relocate the Jakarta embassy. In the interim, we upgraded security at the current embassy, including through a further hardening of the perimeter, began security enhancements to staff residences and established a new position of Post Security Manager. The consulate in Bali also moved to more secure premises pending the completion of a purpose-built chancery.

The department worked very closely with the Australian Defence Force to safeguard the security of the embassy and its personnel in Baghdad. We took a range of risk mitigation measures and operational steps to ensure that the embassy could continue to operate despite several serious threats and incidents. The department coordinated work on the new, more secure chancery in Baghdad's International Zone, which was completed in July 2005 (see sub-output 4.1 for more information).

Physical security

Photo - See caption below for description
In September 2004, the department hosted a commemorative event paying tribute to the Indonesian contract staff, police and innocent bystanders who were killed or injured as a result of the terrorist attack against the Australian embassy in Jakarta on 9 September 2004. Then acting Secretary Joanna Hewitt and His Excellency Imron Cotan, Ambassador of the Republic of Indonesia, light candles of remembrance for each person killed by the bomb. Photo: Michael Jensen
Enlarge image :: Photo gallery

At Additional Estimates 2004–05, the Government allocated $83 million to DFAT and Austrade to install blastproofing on windows at 70 overseas missions where this had not been done already, and to strengthen windows at a number of higher-threat missions. The department relocated six posts to new premises, which entailed extensive security works, including fitout of the new embassy in Baghdad. Through regular consultation with posts, we ensured that additional resources were deployed effectively and in a timely manner, tailored to posts' specific circumstances.

The department advanced planning for other security works, including 11 chancery relocations, four chancery refurbishments, and other measures including facade hardening, perimeter strengthening and the purchase of additional armoured vehicles and metal detectors. This work has involved some very innovative approaches to solving complex security issues, including at our embassy in Baghdad where new building materials have been used to help protect against attack.

Responding to the increasingly challenging external security environment, the department developed new minimum security standards as part of the upgrade of security at all missions overseas. This also took into account the Jakarta experience. We expanded our capacity to support posts in monitoring and reviewing their physical security, through assessment, auditing and direct assistance with implementation.

After Jakarta—security boost for Australian missions overseas

The vehicle-borne device that exploded outside the Australian embassy in Jakarta on 9 September 2004 claimed 10 innocent lives and injured over 200 people. It also caused substantial damage to the perimeter fence at the embassy.

The bombing triggered a Government decision to fund an extensive program of security measures at Australia's overseas posts. A first stage of funding was provided through 2004–05 Additional Estimates, with a second stage provided through the 2005–06 Budget.

Funding for the new security measures for the department and other Australian government agencies represented at overseas posts was approved in stages:

The new funding builds on previous measures and brings the total funding allocated to overseas security since 2002 to almost $1 billion.

The measures will allow us to apply new security standards to our missions overseas and enhance our ability to protect the people who visit and work in them.

The department established a Post Security Task Force with overall responsibility for coordinating implementation of the new security measures.

Specific measures include structural facade hardening, enhanced perimeter security, detection and access control measures in chanceries and residences, window blast treatments, provision of x-ray and bomb detection equipment, armoured vehicles, emergency communication upgrades and additional residential security measures.

Most posts will benefit from at least some of the new measures.

Technical security

As part of the department's responsibility to protect Australian missions against technical and electronic attack, we carried out technical inspections at ten overseas posts, including at five relocated chanceries and two new chanceries. We provided technical security support on eight prime ministerial overseas visits. We continued the program to install back-to-base, high security intruder alarm systems (called type one alarms) at posts. Systems were installed or upgraded at 13 overseas posts.

Staff training

To ensure high levels of security awareness, we provided mandatory overseas security training to 219 staff from the department and 203 staff from other agencies prior to overseas postings. Many of these staff also attended the Personal Security Awareness course designed for staff and their partners posted to higher threat posts. A total of 249 staff attended the regular introductory and refresher security awareness courses. We also contributed to training courses run by other agencies, and provided personal security training at some missions, including Jakarta.

In November 2004, we introduced defensive driver training to address the increased threat from car-jackings overseas. The course is aimed at staff and spouses living and working in higher threat environments. We began developing other new courses including for staff with specific security responsibilities at posts, and a defensive driving course for locally engaged staff with driving responsibilities.

Security clearances

During the year, we granted 381 initial security clearances for new starters and approved 294 security clearance re-evaluations for existing staff. Overseas posts processed a further 73 initial clearances and re-evaluations for locally engaged staff. The department recognised 111 security clearances issued by other agencies. All active departmental employees had current security clearances at 30 June 2005.

Information and communications security

The management of security risks remained an important part of the department's ongoing development, support and implementation of information and communications technology (ICT) systems. As part of ongoing security measures we tested the accreditation of the network by beginning a rigorous review of threat and risk to all major components. Our network defence, developed and accredited in accordance with government guidelines, was further enhanced to ensure its continued effectiveness against evolving external threats. We updated our ICT security awareness training program. We monitored and inspected ICT systems at several overseas missions to ensure they were used in accordance with the department's security guidelines.

Information management and secure communications access

The department continued to work with other agencies to develop whole of government standards for the use and classification of emails. We also expanded our email communications with other agencies by linking to Fedlink, a gateway between agencies that provides security up to the 'In-Confidence' classification for email communications through a private government link. The department's email communications with 56 agencies and departments now pass through this link.

ODIN—the new Official Diplomatic Information Network

The department's new Official Diplomatic Information Network—ODIN—provides, for the first time, a common, fully-automated system across the entire global network for sending messages securely to and from the desktop. That means there is no longer any need for centralised, manual analysis or distribution of cables.

ODIN has provided more formatting options, making diplomatic cables easier to produce and read, and introduced a cable attachment facility that has simplified work practices. ODIN has also generated significant savings.

We completed the roll-out stage of ODIN and supported its introduction by providing extensive training and user awareness programs, including online user help, mandatory training for Canberra-based staff, and regional IT training programs to improve user understanding at posts.

We also started work on the final stage of the ODIN project, aimed at improving the management and storage of email. The new email system deployed in August 2005 complements other work practices that ensure appropriate use and storage of email.

We finalised arrangements for our ICT disaster recovery facility, which we expect to become operational in late 2005. The facility will support both the Government and departmental business continuity plans that aim to ensure continuity of communications to posts. It will allow recovery of communications on our classified messaging system (SATIN High) in the event of a major systems failure.

The department continued to enhance overseas communications by finalising a contract with Optus to provide international and domestic bandwidth to 50 posts and state and territory offices. We chose Optus by tender in mid-2004 after the existing contract with NewSkies expired. The Optus contract gives us much greater flexibility in providing bandwidth to posts while earning substantial savings for the department. The cut-over to Optus began in September 2004 and will continue progressively to April 2006.

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Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Annual Report 2004–2005
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