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Are your hands tied over government security clearances?

If you’re looking to work in or in the Australian Government, whether in the capital or nationally, you need to get your head around the matter of security clearances. It’s important because today around half of temporary, contract and non-ongoing roles in the Australian Public Service require security clearances. And a large percentage of IT positions do too.

face2face Recruitment completed research from 2010 to 2016 on security clearances. The research revealed a sharp increase in demand by the Australian Government.

This blog explains what a security clearance is, what types exist, what the stats are, why they’re needed and how you might get a clearance.

What is a Government security clearance?

This definition of a security clearance is posted on the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency’s website:

A security clearance is a status granted to individuals allowing them access to classified information and resources after completion of a series of thorough background checks.

These checks are undertaken to ensure that people entrusted with security classified information/resources:

  • are eligible to have access
  • have had their identity established
  • are suitable to have access, and
  • are willing to comply with the standards that safeguard those resources against misuse.

Security clearances are only required for individuals who, as part of their work for the Australian Government, need to access classified information/resources.

What types of Government security clearances exist?

Security Clearance Mapping

Why do departments need a current clearance for contract and temporary work?

When departments need to fill temporary assignments or contract work, it’s because they require immediate help with their workload. They can’t wait three months for a candidate to get a clearance. It’s that simple.

Statistics for administration and business support contract roles

Admin & Business Support Security Clearance Statistics

In 2014, only 28% of contract roles for the Australian Public Service required a clearance. In 2016, 47% do. So, if you don’t have a clearance, you’re not eligible to apply for around half of Government contract, temporary or non-ongoing roles.

Statistics for IT contract roles

IT Security Clearance Statistics

In 2010, only 33% of contract roles required a clearance. In 2016, a whopping 73% do. So, if you don’t have a clearance you can only apply for around one-third of IT contract roles.

How do I get a Government security clearance?

You must be an Australian citizen to get a security clearance.

You can only get one if you’re sponsored by a Government department. You cannot apply as an individual, even if you’re prepared to pay to get one with your own money.

Organisations supplying services to Government department—for example, professional services companies, consulting firms or cleaning companies—can get security clearances for staff needing access to Government information or buildings.

1.     Permanent Australian Government roles

You don’t need a security clearance to apply for a permanent Government role. However, if you win a position, the department will sponsor you to get a security clearance and will cover the costs.

2.     A current contract or non-ongoing role in the APS

If you’ve been on contract or in a non-ongoing role with a Government department that didn’t require a security clearance, you can still be proactive and ask if the department would consider sponsoring you for a Baseline clearance.

Sometimes it’s easy for the department to make a case and justify spending the $434, especially if you’re doing a great job and the contract is for at least three months.

3.     Working for a private company that works for the Australian Government

This is another way to get sponsorship for a Baseline clearance. It never hurts to ask the Government department because they might be able to justify the $434.

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