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Protocol Guidelines

12. Protective security

12.1 Australia's protective security obligations

The Australian Government takes seriously its obligations under the Vienna Conventions on Diplomatic and Consular Relations to protect diplomatic missions and consular posts and their staff. These obligations have been adopted into Australian law by the Diplomatic Privileges and Immunities Act 1967 and the Consular Privileges and Immunities Act 1972, and augmented by the Public Order (Protection of Persons and Property) Act 1971 and the Crimes (Internationally Protected Persons) Act 1976.

12.2 Emergencies and incidents

In an emergency, call Triple Zero (000) for police, fire brigade or ambulance services.

Other emergency police attendance numbers can be obtained from telephone directories and state or territory police websites.

When making an emergency phone call, the caller should make clear the status of the mission, consulate or residence.

Protocol Branch should also be advised as soon as possible by calling the Protocol Branch duty number 0418 167 127. If a threat has been received, missions and posts should provide details of the threat, the source of the information or the means by which the threat was conveyed and any other relevant details.

The Australian Federal Police have provided a guide to the 'Dos and Don'ts'[Word 24 KB] when handling suspicious mail, threatening mail and threatening phone calls and additional information [PDF 920 KB] for emergency situations.

12.2.1 Contact persons for security matters and emergencies

Missions should ensure that Protocol Branch has up to date information on the name, address and telephone numbers (home and mobile) of the head of each mission and office, as well as the duty officer. This information is treated as confidential and will be used in the event the police or Protocol Branch needs to reach the person in an emergency.

12.3 Protection of personnel and premises

The Department of Home Affairs coordinates physical security infrastructure arrangements for diplomatic and consular premises and personnel in Australia. The Department of Home Affairs liaises with police authorities, security agencies and government departments in the assessment of threat levels, which are the basis for the protective security arrangements that are put in place.

Missions and posts are expected to provide an appropriate level of physical security for themselves, including fencing and other perimeter security measures, entry controls, and intruder and duress alarms. Guards cannot be armed (see also chapter 13). The Australian Federal Police (AFP) Operations Coordination Centre (AOCC) in Canberra provides a monitoring and response service for alarms installed at chanceries, consulates and head of mission/post residences that have been approved for such monitoring.

AFP and State and Territory police maintain close liaison with missions and posts, particularly those subject to threats or recurrent incidents.

Freedom of expression and peaceful political protest are a key part of Australia's system of democracy. This means that, from time to time, there may be protest activity directed at missions and posts. Appropriate efforts will be made to protect the safety and dignity of missions and posts during such protests.

Primary operational responsibility for law enforcement and public order rests with local, that is state or territory police. In the Australian Capital Territory (ACT), the responsible police are the AFP, ACT Region - also known as ACT Policing.

12.3.1 ACT, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia

Protective security arrangements for missions and posts in the ACT, New South Wales, Victoria and Western Australia combine high visibility patrols by armed AFP officers in uniform, on foot and in marked vehicles. AFP - Uniformed Protection (AFP - UP) normally provides regular vehicle patrolling of most areas where missions and posts are located. Patrols cover chanceries, consular offices and heads of mission/post residences. In cases of specific threat, patrols may also cover staff residences.

Where necessary, a uniformed static presence or mobile close personal protection (CPP) service will be provided. If there is a specific threat, further protective security arrangements will be implemented commensurate with the threat.

If a threat develops or a security incident occurs, AFP is authorised to respond immediately. In an emergency or an incident requiring a local police response, local police are also notified and requested to attend the scene.

12.3.2 Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory

In Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania and the Northern Territory, local police provide whatever protective security is considered necessary. Normal community policing arrangements apply. These can be reinforced when a situation requires additional resources.

12.4 Foreign elections

Missions and posts do not need to seek approval to open polling stations on their premises for home country elections. Local regulations may, however, apply where polling stations are located away from the premises of a mission or post. Missions and posts should check with local authorities regarding any state or territory regulations or municipal by-laws that may be relevant to the conduct of polling.

In addition, Protocol Branch should be informed in advance by note verbale so that it can inform security authorities of the polling date and venue/s. Those authorities will assess whether special security measures are considered necessary and advise the relevant mission and posts accordingly.

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