The Security and Emergency Management Division (SEMD) provides whole of government strategic policy advice and coordination on security and emergency management matters. SEMD delivers on its core responsibilities with a focus on coordination and collaboration across government and industry.

Key deliverables in 2020-21

Policy Advice and Committee Support

During 2020-21, SEMD provided policy advice and support to ACT Government Ministers and Senior Officials attending a wide range of forums on security and emergency management including National Cabinet, the National Emergency Management Minister’s Meeting, First Secretaries Group on National Security and National Bushfire Recovery meetings.

SEMD also supported the ACT members of the Australia-New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee (ANZCTC) and the Australia-New Zealand Emergency Management Committee (ANZEMC). From May 2021, the Executive Group Manager, SEMD commenced as an ACT member of the ANZCTC and the AMZEMC.

SEMD continued to facilitate and coordinate ACT Government security and emergency management committees and working groups, including the Security and Emergency Management Committee of Cabinet, Security and Emergency Management Senior Officials Group (SEMSOG), the Security and Emergency Management Policy Group, ACT Countering Violent Extremism Steering Committee, Critical Infrastructure Working Group, ACT Recovery Committee, Security Advisers Working Group and the CCTV Working Group.

Whole of Government Policies and Projects

During 2020-21, SEMD:

  • supported the ACT Government response to the COVID-19 public health emergency
  • prepared the ACT Government response to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements
  • prepared the ACT Government submission for the Senate review of the operation of the National Emergency Declaration Act 2020 (Cth)
  • progressed reviews into the ACT Government Protective Security Policy Framework 2017 and
    the ACT Government Code of Practice for Closed Circuit Television Systems in consultation with Directorates. Updated policies will be implemented in 2021-22
  • worked closely with the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate
    on the development of a Cyber Emergency Sub-Plan for the ACT. This plan will be implemented
    in 2021-22
  • managed the ACT Critical Infrastructure Register and worked closely with government and industry to plan for potential changes to Commonwealth security of critical infrastructure legislation, and
  • updated the ACT Recovery Sub-Plan to reflect lessons learned from the 2020 Black Summer Bushfires.

Participation in National Security and Emergency Management Policies and Projects

During 2020-21, SEMD represented and coordinated the Territory’s engagement on a range
of Australian Government led policy and program initiatives, including:

  • developing a national Public Safety Mobile Broadband (PSMB) Capability
  • reviewing of the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework
  • proposing amendments to Commonwealth critical infrastructure legislation
  • reporting on disaster risk management arrangements for the Territory
  • developing a Recovery and Resilience Futures Map 2025, and
  • managing the Public Safety Closed Circuit Television (CCTV) Network.

In 2020-21, SEMD continued to maintain and develop the capability of the ACT Public Safety CCTV Network (the Network). The Network consists of ACT Government CCTV systems located in public venues and open spaces. These include Canberra City, Henry Rolland Park, Haig Park, GIO Stadium, Manuka Oval, Exhibition Park in Canberra (EPIC), Jolimont Bus Station and the Kingston, Manuka and South Point Shopping Precincts.

The Network is comprised of approximately 100 cameras, including 19 solar powered cameras. The solar powered units are a cost effective and agile solution to address crime hot spots and temporary CCTV needs, such as Floriade. The Network provides live and recorded CCTV footage to support public safety monitoring, event management, criminal investigations and prosecutions in court. The Network operates within ACT human rights legislation and is not connected to any other database or system that can be used to identify people.

Work was undertaken to expand the Network into Glebe Park. $190 000 was funded for this expansion from a government investment of $475 000 towards CCTV upgrades in the ACT Budget 2018-19.

In 2020-21, an additional three cameras commenced operations on the secure CBRfree Wi-Fi network at Dickson, Braddon and in the City. The ACT Government has entered a contract with the provider of the CBRfree Wi-Fi network that will support the operation of a total of 30 public safety CCTV cameras utilising the network.

Protective Security

SEMD is responsible for whole of government protective security policy. In 2020-21 SEMD:

  • actioned approximately 450 national security clearance applications or renewals
  • led a review and update of the Protective Security Policy Framework
  • progressed the implementation of recommendations from the ACT Auditor-General’s Data Security Performance Audit Report, including the preparation of a Cyber-Emergency Sub-Plan and support to
    a whole of government ICT Threat and Risk Assessment, and
  • supported the Auditor-General’s performance audit into the management of CCTV systems.

Countering Violent Extremism

SEMD is responsible for leading countering violent extremism (CVE) policy development and implementation. SEMD works closely with ACT Policing and across directorates to coordinate whole of government responses
to ideologically and religiously motivated violent extremism.

In 2020-21 SEMD received $205 000 from the Australian Government to deliver the National Living Safe Together Intervention Program (LSTIP). The Program provides dedicated resources to support individuals vulnerable to violent extremism within the ACT community and ensure the ACT government has the appropriate capability, awareness, and training in place to support them. SEMD receives referrals to the LSTIP from a range of partners and engages with ACT Policing and directorates to assess cases through the Assessment and Intervention Panel. Individuals who are assessed as not meeting LSTIP requirements may be referred elsewhere for more general community support.

Recognising the importance of working with community partners in preventing violent extremism, the ACT lead The Review of Community Engagement Approaches to Countering Violent Extremism in the ACT, the NT, Tas, SA and WA, completed in 2020-21. SEMD received $200 000 in Commonwealth funding to lead the project in
2019-20 with completion delayed due to COVID-19. The cost of the review was $185 000 and the remaining monies will be rolled over to 2021-22 for community engagement activities.

SEMD secured $200 000 in Commonwealth funding over three years from 2020-21 to 2022-23 to support the Evaluation of Trial Fixated Threat Assessment Capability in the ACT, Tasmania and the NT to Inform Future Capability. The evaluation will review the operation of the ACT’s trial Fixated, Lone Actor and Grievance-Fuelled Violence Assessment Team, jointly staffed by ACT Policing and Canberra Health Services.

In 2020-21, SEMD continued to organise and deliver appropriate countering violent extremism awareness
and professional development. On 17 June 2021, SEMD held the first Living Safe Together: Working to Prevent Violent Extremism in our Community half day conference (the conference) with 79 attendees, 67 in person and 12 via livestream from across the ACT Government, Commonwealth and states and territories. The conference covered basic awareness of radicalisation, ideologically and religiously motivated violent extremism, the Canberra threat environment, and understanding reporting thresholds and referral pathways.

Members from across the ACT Government and ACT Policing participated in violent extremism risk assessment training in two structured professional judgement tools and attended the National Countering Violent Extremism Practitioners Course in Queensland. The ACT Education Directorate's Student Engagement Team continues to upskill school leadership teams and psychologists, with SEMD and ACT Policing attending half-day training sessions on countering violent extremism in Term 3, 2020 and in Term 1, 2021. The training provides school psychologists, wellness teams and school leadership teams with awareness of violent extremism and the appropriate referral pathways where a concern has been identified.

Throughout the year, SEMD monitored the security threat environment and received classified briefings on emerging and continuing threats, including ideologically and religiously motivated violent extremism. These briefings were shared across government to raise awareness, and SEMD facilitated regular information sharing in relation to the impact of COVID-19 on the violent extremism environment.

Emergency Management and Recovery

SEMD is responsible for whole-of-government coordination on disaster relief and recovery measures and administering the National Partnership Agreement between the Commonwealth and all States and Territories on Disaster Risk Reduction.

In 2020-21, SEMD:

  • coordinated and prepared the ACT’s response to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements (RCNNDA) that was released on 24 January 2021
  • progressed the implementation of high priority recommendations from the RCNNDA
  • updated the ACT Recovery Sub-Plan to incorporate lessons learnt from the Black Summer bushfires, and
  • worked closely with the Chief Minister, Treasury and Economic Development Directorate to progress the Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements (DRFA) claim for costs incurred by directorates in responding to the Black Summer Bushfires.

Commonwealth Drill Style Funding

SEMD administers and coordinates funding provided to the Territory by the Australian Government under the ANZCTC’s drill style exercise and consumable fund.

The Territory received $56 500 in 2020-21 to progress single and multi-directorate drills and training exercises that practice counter-terrorism capabilities. Due to the impacts of the COVID-19 public health emergency, a range of planned exercises did not proceed and will be reconsidered when restrictions ease.