Annual Report 2010–11

Program 3.1 Border management

Program 3.1 consists of two departmental items:

  • Borders
  • Identity.

There is one administered item under Program 3.1:

  • Combating people smuggling.


Effectively facilitate entry of genuine travellers to Australia while preventing entry of those likely to threaten the national interest, as achieved through a whole-of-government, layered approach to border management.

The following tables report against the deliverables and key performance indicators as published in the Portfolio Budget Statements 2010–11 and Portfolio Additional Estimates Statements 2010–11.

Border management—deliverables
Deliverable: Continued increase in the use of biometrics and identity management services.

Result: Since October 2010, training in the department's Biometric Acquisition and Matching System (BAMS) has been delivered to 149 departmental client services officers and to the department's onshore protection officers and 114 officers of Serco (the department's detention services provider). This training provides the skills required by officers to collect facial and fingerprint images from clients.

In December 2010, the department began to collect biometrics (fingerprints and facial images) from offshore visa applicants in 15 countries across Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East.
Deliverable: The entry to Australia of genuine travellers is facilitated.

Result: In 2010–11, there were 30.05 million passenger and crew arrivals and departures. Entry facilitation is delivered at the primary line by the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service (Customs and Border Protection) under a Memorandum of Understanding between that agency and the department.

In accordance with service standards, Customs and Border Protection aims to attend to 95 per cent of clients within 30 minutes of joining the passport-processing queue at an Australian airport. In 2010–11 an average of 97 per cent of all passengers were cleared within 30 minutes of joining the passport-processing queue.

The department continues to work closely with Customs and Border Protection to automate border processing to facilitate entry by travellers using eligible ePassports through the SmartGate system—an automated process for facilitating clearance of Australian and New Zealand citizens on arrival.

The department's Entry Operations Centre provided assistance to more than 234 000 travellers in 2010–11. The centre operates on a 24 hours a day, seven days a week basis to facilitate the boarding of genuine travellers on aircraft to Australia.

Throughout 2010–11, the department built on its operational integrity network, which provides integrity support to the visa and citizenship programs within the service delivery network onshore and offshore under the newly created position of Global Manager for Operational Integrity (GMOI).

The primary goal of the GMOI is to support and better inform policy and service delivery by providing:
  • pre-decision application support to onshore and offshore decision-makers based on established risk profiles (for example, caseload analysis, integrity referrals and site visits and spouse bona fide home visits)
  • an enhanced post-decision quality assurance role to check that outcomes align with processing and policy settings
  • identification of emerging evidence of caseload fraud and then escalating this and ‘treating' it, depending on the circumstances, by means of disruption action, refusal or cancellation, warning or sanction, or civil/criminal prosecution
  • feedback to other global managers, regional directors and policy divisions on any areas of identified processing and policy weakness requiring change.
Deliverable: A high level of border integrity is maintained, including work to prevent the entry of those likely to threaten the national interest.

Result: During 2010–11, 1877 people (1809 at airports and 68 at seaports) were refused immigration clearance at Australia's airports and seaports. This represents an increase of 14.5 per cent on the previous year.

About 67 per cent of those refused immigration clearance had their visas cancelled on the grounds that they were not genuine visitors to Australia and did not intend to comply with the conditions of their visas. The remainder were people who failed to meet the character requirement for entry to Australia or were found with inappropriate documentation with the aim of illegally entering Australia.

The Airline Liaison Officer (ALO) network and the officers in the department's Tactical Support Unit were involved in 126 interdictions of improperly documented passengers attempting to travel to Australia in 2010–11. During the same period, there were 47 improperly documented arrivals from airports that have ALO representatives present there.

During 2010–11, the Border Operations Centre resolved 2.6 million potential matches for clients against identities of concern contained within the Movement Alert List (MAL). All potential matches were resolved within the service level agreement. All visa applicants are checked against the MAL on application before visas are granted and at other milestones during their travel and stay in Australia.

At 30 June 2011, there were 639 000 identities of concern and 1.71 million lost, stolen or fraudulently altered travel documents of interest contained in the MAL.
Deliverable: A high level of confidence in the accurate identification of people entering and departing Australia.

Result: The department has a range of tools in place that assist in detecting and preventing identity fraud. The department has collected biometrics (facial images and fingerprints) from most people over 15 years of age in immigration detention since 2006, including irregular maritime arrivals and illegal foreign fishers. Collection of biometric facial images from citizenship applicants started in October 2007.

From November 2010, following a successful pilot project, all Protection visa applicants are required to provide biometrics.

Since 21 August 2010, all fingerprints acquired by the department are stored on the National Automated Fingerprint Identification System (NAFIS), which is administered by CrimTrac (the Australian Government agency established to provide national information sharing to support law enforcement agencies). Once on NAFIS, they are automatically checked against our own holdings and against all state and territory law enforcement records. This enhances the department's capacity to identify clients and to ascertain whether a client has a criminal record in Australia. This also reduces repeat visa applications in different identities and increases confidence that clients do not have serious character issues undeclared to the department.

Law enforcement agencies are also able to check whether the fingerprints of someone suspected or convicted of a crime belong to a person known to the department.

To 30 June 2011, 400 cases matched with the NAFIS law enforcement records. The matches came from the unlawful non-citizen, onshore protection, United Kingdom Visa Application Centre and illegal foreign fisher case loads. The fingerprint check identified 141 cases where the client had not disclosed their past records to the department.

When a match occurs that uncovers a client's undeclared past records, Identity Branch provides that information to the appropriate decision-maker. Approximately 65 per cent of clients who do not disclose their past records are already in immigration detention. About 25 per cent of non-disclosers are onshore protection applicants and 3–10 per cent are offshore visa applicants. Identity Branch's information assists case officers to make better informed decisions about removals and visa applications.

To protect privacy, the data stored on NAFIS is de-identified. If a search by another agency results in a match, that agency must seek any additional personal information (such as a client's name or address) from the department. Such information is only shared in accordance with the legal requirements in the Migration Act 1958 and the Privacy Act 1988.
Deliverable: Contribution to the whole-of-government efforts to combat people smuggling.

Result: The department made a significant contribution to the whole-of-government efforts to combat maritime and non-maritime people smuggling.

Australia has deployed officers in a number of countries that are the source of smuggled migrants including Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Australia has also deployed officers to those countries that are used by smuggling networks as transit locations, including Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand and the United Arab Emirates. These officers work with the governments of our regional partners and other Australian Government agencies to combat people smuggling.

The development of effective working relationships with the border management agencies of our regional partner countries is crucial in developing both immediate and long-term solutions to people smuggling. The department participates in a number of regional forums designed to establish and maintain these networks. The primary forum is the Bali Process on People Smuggling, Human Trafficking and Related Transnational Crime, which Australia co-hosts with Indonesia.

Other forums include the Pacific Immigration Directors Conference and the Pacific Rim Immigration Intelligence Conference. The department also contributes to the Five Country Conference Intelligence and Overseas Liaison Working Group and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime projects on people smuggling. The department participates in ASEAN forums focusing on people smuggling, human trafficking and other irregular movements.

Capacity building in the form of training and ongoing support is provided to our regional partners by the department to assist them to identify and combat people smuggling. Recipients of this capacity building in 2010–11 include ASEAN member countries, Afghanistan, Jordan, Pakistan, the Maldives, Sri Lanka and the United Arab Emirates. The department is developing capacity-building programs with Iraq, Papua New Guinea and other countries in the Pacific region and selected African countries.

The relationship and capacity-building work completed by the department in previous years is proving effective; a number of source and transit countries are developing and enforcing legislation and utilising border management and immigration-related intelligence systems to combat people smuggling. While this assists Australia, it also ensures that the countries involved maintain a higher degree of border integrity.

Border management—key performance indicators
Indicator: Only a very low proportion of total passenger and crew arrivals are refused immigration clearance at airports and seaports.

Result: During the year, 1877 people (1809 at airports and 68 at seaports) were refused immigration clearance at Australia's airports and seaports. This represents 0.012 per cent of all passenger and crew arrivals.

Table 55: Border management—performance information

Key performance indicator 2008–09 actual 2009–10 actual 2010–11 target 2010–11 actual
The percentage of people refused immigration clearance at airports and seaports, as a proportion of total passenger and crew arrivals. 0.011% 0.012% <0.015% 0.012%