Go to top of page

About the Australian intelligence agencies


ASIO’s main role is to gather information and produce intelligence that will enable it to warn the Government about activities that might endanger Australia’s national security.

ASIO’s functions are set out in the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation Act 1979 (ASIO Act). ASIO is also bound by Guidelines, which include requirements for the collection and handling of personal information. The Guidelines also set out principles that govern ASIO’s work; provide guidance on when information obtained during an investigation is relevant to security and when ASIO can communicate certain other information; and incorporate the current definition of politically motivated violence.

The responsible Minister for ASIO is the Minister for Home Affairs. The Attorney-General exercises certain powers and functions under the ASIO Act, including the power to authorise warrants and special intelligence operations.


The primary function of ASIS is to obtain and communicate intelligence not readily available by other means, about the capabilities, intentions and activities of individuals or organisations outside Australia. Further functions set out in the Intelligence Services Act 2001 (ISA) include communicating secret intelligence in accordance with government requirements, conducting counter-intelligence activities and liaising with foreign intelligence or security services.

Under the ISA, ASIS’s activities are regulated by a series of ministerial directions, ministerial authorisations and Privacy Rules.

The responsible Minister for ASIS is the Minister for Foreign Affairs.


ASD is Australia’s national authority on signals intelligence and information security. ASD collects foreign signals intelligence, and reports on this intelligence are provided to key policy makers and select government agencies with a clear and established need to know. The Act that established ASD as a statutory agency, the Intelligence Services Amendment (Establishment of the Australian Signals Directorate) Act 2018, received Royal Assent on 11 April 2018 and commenced on 1 July 2018.

The responsible Minister for ASD is the Minister for Defence.


The Office of National Assessments was established in 1977 but following the passage of the Office of National Intelligence Act 2018 in December 2018 was subsumed by ONI. ONI is responsible for enterprise level management of the National Intelligence Community (NIC) and ensures a single point of accountability for the NIC to the Prime Minister and National Security Committee of Cabinet. ONI produces "all source" assessments on international political, strategic and economic developments to the Government. ONI uses information collected by other intelligence and government agencies, diplomatic reporting and open sources, including the media, to support its analysis.

The responsible Minister for ONI is the Prime Minister.


AGO is Australia’s national geospatial intelligence agency, and is located within the Department of Defence. AGO’s geospatial intelligence, derived from the fusion of analysis of imagery and geospatial data, supports Australian Government decision making and assists with the planning and conduct of Australian Defence Force (ADF) operations. AGO also gives direct assistance to Commonwealth and State bodies responding to security threats and natural disasters. The functions of AGO are set out in the ISA and its activities are regulated by a series of ministerial directions, ministerial authorisations and Privacy Rules.

The responsible Minister for AGO is the Minister for Defence.


DIO is the Department of Defence’s all source intelligence assessment agency. Its role is to provide independent intelligence assessment, advice and services in support of: the planning and conduct of ADF operations; Defence strategic policy and wider government planning and decision making on defence and national security issues; and the development and sustainment of Defence capability.

The responsible Minister for DIO is the Minister for Defence.