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Activity 8 Liaising with other accountability or integrity agencies

About liaising with other accountability or integrity agencies

We frequently liaise with other accountability and integrity agencies, both in Australia and overseas. This liaison provides opportunities for us to discuss matters of mutual interest, learn from each other's practices and keep abreast of significant developments in other jurisdictions.

Performance summary

Liaising with other accountability or integrity agencies in Australia and overseas

Performance criteria and indicators: frequency of interaction with other accountability and integrity agencies, including the Commonwealth Ombudsman and the Australian Human Rights Commission

Target: regular interactions as required

Source: Corporate Plan 2016-20

Australian Human Rights Commission

The Australian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is required by section 11(3) of the Australian Human Rights Commission Act 1986 to refer human rights and discrimination matters relating to an act or practice of the intelligence and security agencies to the IGIS. In the reporting period, our engagement with the AHRC included exchanges relating to complaint-handling practices.

Specific matters referred to the IGIS by the AHRC as complaints are discussed in detail in this report under Activity 3.

Commonwealth Ombudsman

The work of our office complements the work of the Office of the Commonwealth Ombudsman (OCO), and there is a memorandum of understanding that provides guidance to handling complaints that overlap the jurisdictions of each office. During 2016-17, we continued to hold regular face to face meetings at the Deputy IGIS/Deputy Ombudsman level. The purpose of these meetings was to ensure the coordination of our investigative activities, to reduce duplication of effort, and also to discuss issues of mutual interest including any legislative changes affecting integrity and oversight bodies.

The most frequent area of overlap between our respective offices continues to be in handling immigration and visa-related security assessment complaints. Where appropriate, our staff either refer matters directly to the OCO or advise the visa applicant that they may lodge a complaint with the OCO where the matter does not come within IGIS's jurisdiction. This includes, for example, cases where the application was never referred to ASIO for security checks. Our staff also raise with the OCO any systemic issues that appear to relate to Immigration, for example, in cases where there has been prolonged delay by Immigration in processing certain visa applications.

This office also liaised closely with the OCO during 2016-17 on the management of the Commonwealth's Public Interest Disclosure Scheme. While the Commonwealth Ombudsman has overarching responsibility for the operation of the PID scheme, the IGIS is responsible for overseeing the scheme for the intelligence and security agencies. Further information on the IGIS's responsibilities under the PID scheme is discussed at Activity 4 of this report.

International engagement

During the reporting period, the Inspector-General and/or Deputy Inspector-General met with officials from New Zealand, Canada and Japan on matters relating to intelligence and security. The office has also been engaged in discussions with international integrity agencies and the Five Eyes Intelligence Oversight and Security Review Council on matters of mutual interest.

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