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Part 2: About the department

The Department of Immigration and Citizenship (DIAC) aspires to build Australia's future through the well-managed movement and settlement of people. The achievement of this vision supports the government to deliver social, economic, and national security priorities both now and in the future. The department
strives to do this by fostering a culture whereby people, performance, and financial management support an open and accountable organisation, fair and reasonable dealings with clients, and well developed and supported staff.

The department came into existence on 13 July 1945 during the concluding months of World War II. Many immigration branch personnel were still on active service and the department began with just 24 staff. Today, more than 10,000 officers represent the department, comprising:

  • approximately 8,576 ongoing and non-ongoing APS officers, 811 contractors, and 1,073 locally-engaged staff employed by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) or Austrade on the department's behalf at overseas posts
  • a large, well-educated workforce—51 per cent of


    staff have completed either bachelor or master's degrees as their highest completed qualification, which is significantly greater than the APS average (35 per cent)
  • high levels of internal promotion, with 16.7 per cent being promoted within the department (10.27 per cent industry median)
  • a large and diverse group of 277 key stakeholders, identified by the department, contributing to the delivery of migration, refugee, and settlement programs (the department also collaborates with Australian states, territories, and other Federal Government agencies to develop and deliver a wide range
    of services)
  • a wide geographic footprint, with offices in all Australian capital cities and regional offices in Cairns, Dandenong and Parramatta, as well as 21 detention facilities and 69 international offices (National Office has 39 per cent of total staff, with 59 per cent in the regional offices and 2 per cent
    based in overseas posts).

The department works closely with the Migration Review Tribunal and Refugee Review Tribunal (MRT–RRT). The tribunals provide an independent and final merit-based review of visa and visa-related decisions made within the department's portfolio.

The department's core business is to contribute to Australia's future through managed migration, border protection, and traveller facilitation. Further, the department seeks to ensure the protection of refugees and promote a multicultural Australia. The department is divided into four functional groups:

  • Policy and Program Management Group brings together the policy areas of the department to deliver policy advice and manage programs in support of the department achieving desired government outcomes.
  • Client Services Group delivers the department's immigration and citizenship programs through a network of offices across Australia and overseas.
  • Immigration Status Resolution Group manages immigration detention services supporting the department's overall management of persons entering and staying in Australia.
  • Business Services Group draws together a range of internal service areas that provide professional services in support of the department's business and operations.

In 2011–12, the department's total operating expense budget was $3.385 billion, of which $1.326 billion was for departmental expenses and $1.279 billion was administered expenses for the delivery of specific programs. In addition, the department receives quarantined funding for unforeseeable
Irregular Maritime arrivals (IMAs). This funding operates on a 'no win no loss' understanding with the Department of Finance and Deregulation, whereby any money that is spent by the department on IMAs is reimbursed through the Budget. In 2011–12, the department's quarantined funding for departmental
expenses was $180 million, with a further $601 million in quarantined funding for administered expenses.

The department aspires to deliver improved and responsive client service across a global network in order to address future challenges, including:

  • helping to meet skill demands, especially those in the resources sector
  • responding to IMAs and administering immigration detention
  • delivering a strong offshore humanitarian program to assist some of the world's many people in need and supporting their settlement in Australia
  • strengthening border security through risk strategies and working with stakeholders
  • ensuring that the migration program and broader immigration policy settings respond to Australia's future demographic challenges and maximise economic opportunities.
Last reviewed: 
29 March 2018