What Impact Do Criminal Convictions Have On NatSec Work?
Clearances And Job Applications
Generally, it depends on the level of clearance you are applying for. The best thing you can do is try and get in young. This is not only better for a cohesive work culture, but conducting a background check on someone who still lives at home, has not traveled, was in a Christian high school until about a month ago, and now soon turns 18 years old: that is the Top Secret clearance dream case. Things stack on from there.
Always “don’t lie” – that is definitely true. But don’t tell “stupid truths” is also a kind of true. Ultimately, it is worse to be missing a couple of years, from youth travel in foreign nations, than to have smoked weed (or the equivalent at time of reading this) or being convicted for minor criminal infractions in youth. So there is that.
Otherwise it depends. It depends on how serious your offense was, and how long ago it was. This is what will determine how “un-recorded” a conviction (*even a conviction that has been recorded as “not recorded“) actually is. And how unique and required your skill set is (at the ‘late life career change’ end).
Ultimately, everything is recorded. And thus, in some form, everything is reviewed (especially for TS/S-NV1/2-PV1). Though jurisprudence/policy is still developing for the millennial/zoomer “online normative life” experience, for now all officers of rank are genX/Boomers with little appreciation for generational differences. However, there is some awareness of this lack of appreciation. Recruiting has extended with items like tattoos, piercings, hacking (script kitty/kiddie) minor history. Though, for the most part, change still moves with the speed of “the death of one senior administrator at a time“.
Unofficial footprints from open source are reviewed for the report, but they are not completely damning in most cases. A word of caution: Do not think private settings do anything useful to hide impropriety – you are expected to co-operate with access.
However, even a recorded conviction is not the end of the road.
If it has been greater than 10yrs without re-offending (5 for juvenile offenses); and there was less than ~3 years imprisonment (*of any “kind”) – sometimes you will not have to mention a conviction. This is called the conviction “spent” time.
The Federal Police (AFP) can provide further information on if your convictions are covered under the spent conviction scheme.
Sometimes the question(s) on a job application will be vague; in which case there is some situational discretion. In most cases, questions will be specific enough that this is not confusing.
However, an employer does not necessarily have the right to “ask”, if it is not germane to the duties you will be employed to discharge. (*though this is not the same as an employer being unable to find out. Consider this when constructing answers.)
You may apply for your own National Police Certification if you are uncertain of your status.
For further information on criminal records, there is a legal aid entry.
All clearances in AU are otherwise handled by the AGSVA, regardless of department. All clearances must be sponsored by your hiring/contracted agency. None are granted on a speculative basis.
Of note, for going through this process: If at any point legitimate indecision is reached in an investigation, government policy is to always resolve by denying clearance.