fingerprint and binary signifying security clearance

Security clearance required

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Do you want to work with a government agency and notice some roles say a security clearance is required?

Not sure what a security clearance is? No problem! Read on to find out what a security clearance is, why you need one and how to get one.

What is a security clearance?

A security clearance is an assessment of you and your history, usually by the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency, also known as AGSVA.

It makes sure you are eligible and suitable to deal with security classified resources as part of your job.

A security clearance doesn’t make you into 007 because there are less martinis and car chases than one might imagine.

james bond in a car chase showing what it is NOT like to have a security clearance

However just like James, you need to be vetted as trustworthy and able to protect national interests.

Are there different clearances?

There sure are – the four levels of clearance are:

The vetting process gets more complex with each level because risk exposure increases with each level.

Why do you need a clearance?

If you need a clearance it is because you need to access security classified resources in your role with a government agency.

Vetting not only shows how trustworthy you are or are not but also points out your potential for extortion.

A solid character is very important in people who work with classified material which could be of interest to terrorists.

Team of Government employees with security clearance working on classified information

Classified information ranges from emails to resources that impact national security.

Someone with a dodgy history or weak character is a risk because undesirables may try blackmail or manipulation to prompt release of classified info.

How do you get a security clearance?

You need sponsorship from a government agency. This is usually because you are going to start in a role.

Which means you must have a job offer first.

You can find jobs in the public service online at sites like jobactive, APSjobs, and Seek.

Some roles need you to work with security classified material, so they specify what clearance level must be obtained.

The government agency you get a job with will help facilitate the clearance.

You can’t just apply for a clearance when there is no need for it.

man saying 'one does not simply get a security clearance'

What info do I need to provide?

AGSVA process applications for most agencies but a few agencies do their own vetting such as ASIO and the AFP.

You need to submit what AGSVA asks for as part of the assessment process.

The information may be from the last five years up to your whole life depending on the clearance level, and might include:

  • personal documents
  • residential and work history
  • digital identity and financial info
  • records held by government agencies
  • referee interviews
  • ASIO review

Your application will be reviewed after all requested information is submitted. This takes from one month to six months (or more).

It’s good to be vanilla

AGSVA will want to know all about you as part of an application when a security clearance is required. Have you kept your powder dry?

scene from breaking bad showing what is NOT okay as part of a security clearance
This is going to take some explaining…

You must be able to verify your character and your past. There is really nothing to worry about unless you have a reason to be worried.

Images: imgflip, istock, giphy

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