Australian Border Force

Australian Border Force

Patch of Australian Border Force
Agency overview
Formed July 1, 2015 (2015-07-01)
Preceding agencies
Annual budget $116 Million (2016)
Legal personality Governmental: Government agency
Jurisdictional structure
Federal agency AU
General nature
Operational structure
Headquarters Belconnen ACT 2617
Elected officer responsible Peter Dutton, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
Agency executive Roman Quaedvlieg, Commissioner
Parent agency Department of Immigration and Border Protection
Child agency Australian Customs Service
Australian Border Force Act 2015
Parliament of Australia
An Act relating to the Australian Border Force, the Australian Border Force Commissioner and persons performing work for the Department, and for related purposes.
Citation Australian Border Force Act 2015 (Cth)
Enacted by Australian House of Representatives
Date passed 25 Mar 2015
Enacted by Australian Senate
Date passed 14 May 2015
Date of Royal Assent 20 May 2015
Date commenced 1 July 2015
Legislative history
Bill introduced in the Australian House of Representatives Australian Border Force Bill 2015
Bill citation Australian Border Force Bill 2015 (Cth)
Introduced by The Hon. Peter Dutton MP, Minister for Immigration and Border Protection
First reading 25 Feb 2015
Second reading 25 Mar 2015
Third reading 25 Mar 2015
Bill introduced in the Australian Senate Australian Border Force Bill 2015
First reading 25 Mar 2015
Second reading 14 May 2015
Third reading 14 May 2015
Status: In force

The Australian Border Force (abbreviated to ABF) is the Australian government agency tasked with border protection and national security duties. This agency was established on 1 July 2015 after the merger of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service and some parts of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP). Some ABF officers are equipped with firearms and wear a different uniform.

It was announced on 9 May 2014 by the Immigration Minister Scott Morrison MP.[1]

"The Australian Border Force draws together the operational border, investigations, compliance, detention and enforcement functions of the two existing agencies. Policy, regulatory and corporate functions will combine within the broader department."


The ABF is the operational arm of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Its mission is to protect Australia's border and manage the movement of people and goods across it. The ABF contributes to three national outcomes including strong national security, a strong economy and a prosperous and cohesive society. To achieve its mission the ABF structures itself into two Groups - the Operations Group and the Support Group.

The Operations Group has responsibilities for all operational activity relating to the management of travellers, goods and cargo throughout the border continuum. The Operations Group houses the enforcement functions of the ABF, including:

The Support Group has responsibility for providing planning, support and specialist services to ensure operational continuity across the border continuum and the operational management responsibility for detention services management including health, detention estate management, and regional processing and settlement.[2]

Ranks and insignia

The Australian Border Force has its own rank structure. Uniformed Australian Border Force officers have their rank displayed on their shoulder epaulettes, attached to shirts, jumpers or jacket. The rank and epaulette styling is in line with many other border agencies and shares close similarities with its United Kingdom counterpart, the UK Border Force.

The ABF rank insignia's have four components placed against an ink navy coloured field:

ABF Front line Officer ranks and insignia

(commonly seen at Airports, Seaports, Border Patrol, Enforcement & Maritime Ops, Air Cargo, Container Examination Facility, Postal Exams, Detector Dog Unit.)

Rank Assistant Border Force Officer (level 1) Assistant Border Force Officer (level 2) Border Force Officer Leading Border Force Officer Senior Border Force Officer Border Force Supervisor
Australian Public Service (APS) level APS 1 APS 2 APS 3 APS 4 APS 5 APS 6
ABF Executive level ranks and insignia
Rank Border Force Inspector Border Force Superintendent Commander

(Regional Commander)

Assistant Commissioner

of the ABF

Deputy Commissioner

of the ABF

Commissioner of the ABF
Australian Public Service (APS) level EL 1 EL 2 SES 1 SES 2 SES 3 Department Head/CEO


Prior to the standing up of the Australian Border Force, the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service had Officers in certain operational instances where they were armed with Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). These Officers were generally those that worked in Enforcement Operations, Investigations, and the Marine Unit. Since the 1st July 2015, with the creation of the Australian Border Force came a change direction and environment. The ABF has geared itself more to a law enforcement aspect to help adapt itself with the increasing threat of terrorism, on both a global and local standpoint, people smuggling, and highly organised criminal syndicates and organisations. As a result, the ABF has begun to arm trained officers to carry firearms and PPE at all major Australian international airports.

ABF Officers are supplied with current generation Glock 17 9mm semi-automatic pistol. ASP 21 inch telescopic baton, SAF-LOK MK5 hinged handcuffs, Oleoresin Capsicum (OC) Spray.

Other areas of the ABF use other firearms. One such unit is the Marine Unit, a de facto Coast Guard which operates alongside with the Australian Defence Force under the Border Protection Command. With this partnership ABF Officers are equipped with the same rifles that are currently in service with the Australian Defence Force, that being a F88 Austeyr, a modified Steyr AUG A1.

Passenger Profiling & Watchlists

The Australian Border Force uses a "big data" analysis ecosystem to monitor people & cargo entering and leaving Australia. This includes the use of machine learning capabilities across a range of analytical platforms that draw together multiple data sources to provide insights.

The Central Movement Alert List (CMAL) is an electronic watch list, containing information about individuals who pose either an immigration or national security concern to the Australian Government as well as information on lost, stolen or fraudulent travel documents. CMAL comprises two databases, the Person Alert List (PAL) and the Document Alert List (DAL). The PAL database stores the biographical details of identities of concern and DAL is a list of lost, fraudulent or stolen travel documents. PAL records are categorised according to the reason for listing the identity—the alert reason code (ARC). There are 19 ARCs with each being categorised as high, medium or low risk.

Australian Members of Parliament have expressed concerns about the lack of systematic control over data input and maintenance of the Alert List, stating that Australian citizens and visitors may suffer inconvenience or harassment due to misinformation or incorrect information being entered into the system.[3]

The Australian Border Force receives PNR data from airlines operating into and out of Australia. PNR data is information about passengers that is held by airlines on their computer reservation system. PNR data includes approximately 106 different fields such as passenger name(s), sex, passport number, nationality, travel companions, frequent flyer Information, date and place of ticket issue, contact phone numbers, credit card number and expiry date, number of bags, seat allocation, and the passenger's full itinerary.[4]

See also


  1. Bourke, Latika (9 May 2014). "Immigration Minister Scott Morrison announces new Australian Border Force". ABC News. Archived from the original on 4 April 2015. Retrieved 1 July 2015.
  2. "Australian Border Force: Who we are". Australian Department of Immigration and Border Protection. Retrieved 30 May 2016. This article contains quotations from this source, which is available under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Australia licence.
  3. House of Representatives Committee Audit Report 35 2008-2009.
  4. Australian Government Office of the Australian Information Commissioner. Passenger Name Records: Administrative Arrangements. 2015.
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