On 13th December 2018, the Australian Government launched the National Strategy to fight Transnational, Serious and Organised Crime.
The Minister for Home Affairs Peter Dutton said that transnational, serious and organised crime is a key national security threat to Australia.
“The criminal networks behind crimes such as trafficking of illicit drugs, sexual exploitation of children, and financial crime and cybercrime are resilient, well-financed, and operate across international borders as sophisticated enterprises,” Mr. Dutton said.
“It is a significant challenge that requires a coordinated, collaborative and strategic national approach – key themes of the Strategy.”
Why does Australia need a national strategy to fight transnational, serious and organised crime (TSOC)?
TSOC targeted at Australian citizens, businesses and institutions, has devastating effects. According to the National Strategy to Fight Transnational, Serious and Organised Crime (“the Strategy”):
“Illicit drugs destroy communities; drug fuelled crime disrupts our lives; money laundering abuses our financial system, and distorts markets; cybercrime is rapidly growing and impacting an increasing number of Australians every day; and child sexual exploitation has lifelong ramifications for the victims and their families.”
These types of criminal groups are becoming increasingly sophisticated, utilising technological advancements and taking advantage of increased globalisation to diversify across multiple crime types. Australia’s national response therefore needs to adapt to effectively combat this increasing threat, and this strategy will provide a national framework to fight transnational, serious and organised crime.
Australia’s threat environment
The strategy outlines how 70% of Australia’s serious and organised crime threats are based offshore, or have strong offshore links. The reason that Australia is an attractive target is because we are a wealthy, prosperous society.
It is estimated that TSOC costs Australia up to $47 billion a year, and the threat is rapidly evolving.
How will TSOC be identified, prevented and disrupted?
The Strategy presents a highly integrated approach, utilising all available tools, building strong partnerships, strengthening our national capabilities and evolving to effectively combat transnational, serious and organised crime.
The Strategy emphasises a focus on deploying the right interventions at the right points, to have maximum impact:
- Offshore – prevention and disruption of offshore criminal activity before it reaches Australia.
- Borders – strong border management to combat people smuggling and the movement of illicit drugs and goods.
- Onshore – preventing criminals from infiltrating Australia’s economy, exploiting its economic and cyber systems.
- Community – increasing resilience and reducing harm through awareness building and education.
Partnerships and collaboration
The Strategy states that “Strong, enduring partnerships are critical to our success”. Key partnerships and initiatives include:
- International engagement – cooperation with a range of international partners to disrupt crime at its source overseas.
- Government engagement – building partnerships across governments, domestically and internationally, to enhance collaborative relationships across intelligence, law enforcement, border management, justice, legal, education, health and social policy agencies, to ensure a multi-faceted response to the threat.
- Private sector, civil society and academic engagement – this will help to build a strong understanding of the threat environment, raise awareness, promote vigilance and reinforce the fight against TSOC.
- Community engagement – increasing resilience of communities and protecting vulnerable individuals.
The Strategy focuses on developing capabilities in the following areas:
- Workforce and people – development of leaders, policy experts, operational officers, prosecutors, investigators and intelligence analysts.
- Systems and processes – leveraging and coordinating systems and processes to improve outcomes and ensure access to the right tools to combat transnational, serious and organised crime.
- Technology and infrastructure – while both enablers of TSOC, they can also be utilised to combat this threat on and offshore.
- Intelligence and data – adopting an intelligence-informed and evidence-based approach.
Evolving – driving continuous improvement
The Strategy outlines a number of measures to better understand the evolving environment to proactively address the transnational, serious and organised crime threat and drive continuous improvement:
- Threat picture – better understanding the overall threat level and utilising research, development and innovation to address these threats.
- Inputs – the creation of a national capability model will allow for the identification of areas of best practice, potential gaps, overlaps or misalignments, and methods to further develop capabilities.
- Outputs – measuring impact of activities to target TSOC to drive continuous improvement.
- Performance – demonstrating performance and recognising success.
Transnational, serious and organised crime represents a serious threat to Australia’s national security, threatening the safety, security and trust of its citizens, the prosperity of its businesses and economy, and the integrity of its institutions.
The National Strategy to fight Transnational, Serious and Organised Crime outlines the framework in which governments, the private sector, civil society, academia and the community will work together to improve Australia’s national security.