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Activity 8 Liaising With Other Accountability or Integrity Agencies
ABOUT LIAISING WITH OTHER ACCOUNTABILITY OR INTEGRITY AGENCIES
The office frequently liaises with other accountability and integrity agencies, both in Australia and overseas, to discuss matters of mutual interest, learn from each other's practices, and to keep abreast of significant developments in other jurisdictions.
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 OCO and the AHRC.
Target: regular interactions as required.
Source: IGIS Corporate Plan 2017-2021, p. 6.
DOMESTIC LIAISON WITH ACCOUNTABILITY AND INTEGRITY AGENCIES
Our engagement with other domestic accountability and integrity agencies during the reporting period focused on the practicalities of implementing the recommendation from the 2017 Independent Intelligence Review that the jurisdiction of the Inspector-General be expanded to include the intelligence functions of the ACIC, AFP, AUSTRAC and Department of Home Affairs. In particular the office is working with other accountability and integrity agencies to ensure that our oversight activities are complementary and any overlap is minimised.
AUSTRALIAN HUMAN RIGHTS COMMISSION
The 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 Inspector-General. During the reporting period the office liaised with the AHRC in relation to the potential impact of changes to the jurisdiction of the office, information sharing and complaint-handling practices.
The work of the 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 jurisdiction of each office. During the reporting period, we continued to hold regular face-to-face meetings at the Deputy Inspector-General/Deputy Ombudsman level as well as staff level engagement and coordinated engagement between the office, OCO and Australian Commission for Law Enforcement and Integrity. The purpose of these meetings was to ensure the coordination of our current investigative activities and to consider coordination of future activities in view of the recommended changes to the jurisdiction of the office. During the reporting period the office and OCO agreed to temporary placement of some IGIS staff with the OCO, early in the 2018-19 reporting period, to enhance our understanding of their practices and procedures.
The most frequent area of overlap between our respective offices continues to be in the handling of immigration and visa-related security assessment complaints. Where appropriate, IGIS staff either refer matters directly to the OCO or where the matter does not come within the Inspector-General's jurisdiction, advise the visa applicant that they may lodge a complaint directly with the OCO. Cases where the matter does not come within the Inspector-General's jurisdiction, would include for example, those 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 the Department of Home Affairs, for example, in cases where there has been prolonged delay by the Department of Home Affairs in processing certain visa applications.
The office also liaised closely with the OCO during the reporting period on the management of the Commonwealth's PID scheme. While the OCO 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 can be found at Activity 4 of this report.
AUSTRALIAN COMMISSION FOR LAW ENFORCEMENT INTEGRITY
The Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) assists the Integrity Commissioner to provide independent assurance to Government about the integrity of prescribed law enforcement agencies. The changes to the jurisdiction of the Inspector-General recommended by the 2017 Independent Intelligence Review will establish complementary oversight of the intelligence functions of some of the prescribed law enforcement agencies. Coordinated engagement between the office, OCO and ACLEI during this period focused on the coordination of future oversight activities including minimising duplication of effort and other issues of mutual interest. Additionally, the office reached an agreement with ACLEI regarding the placement of staff with ACLEI in the last quarter of the reporting period to enhance our understanding of their practices and procedures.
INTERNATIONAL ENGAGEMENT WITH ACCOUNTABILITY AND INTEGRITY AGENCIES
In October 2017 the Inspector-General and the Deputy Inspector-General attended the Five-Eyes Intelligence Oversight and Review Council Conference in Ottawa, Canada. The conference provided an opportunity to develop understanding of the ways in which different countries manage oversight of intelligence and security matters. During the reporting period, the Inspector-General additionally liaised with members of this Five-Eyes Council on key national developments and matters of mutual interest, including preparations for the October 2018 conference (which the Inspector-General will host). This activity will be reported in the 2018-2019 annual report.
In November 2017 the Inspector-General attended the International Intelligence Oversight Forum in Belgium. The theme of this conference was 'Democratic Oversight of Intelligence: Challenges and Choices'. The forum provided an opportunity to discuss global issues and engage with key leaders in intelligence and security oversight from outside of the five-eyes community.