ASIO’s Deputy Director-General Vetting Service Delivery, Ewan Macmillan, has taken part in a podcast to bust myths associated with the security clearance process so Australians can better understand the crucial role of vetting in the National Intelligence Community (NIC).

Deputy Director-General (DDG) Macmillan was joined by an experienced vetting analyst – known as Vanessa – to explain the importance of a vetting process and what a career in national security could look like once a clearance is granted.

The episode was the fifth in a series focusing on cultural and linguistic diversity in the NIC, hosted by Caroline van Heuzen, Deputy Head of the ANU National Security College and Carl Chang from the Office of National Intelligence.

The discussion explored several aspects of the vetting process. 

“It's one of those areas where there's a perception or barrier around how you might join into the national security community,” said Mr Chang.

ASIO vetting analyst Vanessa spends her day measuring the loyalty, maturity and trustworthiness of potential new recruits.

Everyone undergoing a security clearance at the highest level is required to meet the same criteria, but as Vanessa explained, the NIC recognises that no two individuals are the same.

“Everyone goes through psychological testing, everyone goes through a psychological interview as well. Everyone is interviewed themselves. So, everyone has an opportunity to talk to the analyst that is looking at their case. We also look at referees, so we will have a chat to both nominated and unnominated referees,” said Vanessa.

“Don't be fearful of the questions that are being asked, don't be fearful of providing an honest answer, don't think that you're being judged. Ultimately, what we're looking for is vulnerabilities that someone might use to coerce you to betray the secrets that you've been given the responsibility to protect,” said DDG Macmillan.

The vetting process involved in granting a security clearance covers all aspects of a person’s life. It is comprehensive and can seem intrusive at times. Vanessa explained it can also take time to complete - usually a number of months - and requires applicants to assemble documentation relating to many parts of their life.

“It's important for us to get to know you so that we can make a fulsome and accurate assessment on you as an individual, but also on that suitability to hold a clearance. At no point does diversity characteristics indicate a security concern, either, which is important to remember,” said Vanessa.

Vetting analysts, including Vanessa, have undergone diversity and inclusion training focusing not only on why diversity is important, but also exploring perceived barriers people can face such as backgrounds, different experiences and community groupings.

“We want a more sophisticated and diverse workforce. All the reasons why diversity matters, I don't need to repeat, it's fundamentally important. It's committed to by all of the agency heads within the NIC and across the community, DDG Macmillan said.

“Today is partly about busting myths and being more open and transparent, which is a theme that we're very strong on in the community. It's so that the community that we protect and serve can understand better what we do”.

As Australia navigates its most intricate strategic challenges in decades, ASIO, in partnership with the NIC, is actively recruiting vetting analysts, like Vanessa.

“We're looking for vetting analysts across the community, but specifically to grow ASIO’s vetting capability, and Vanessa undersells it, they're an amazing group of people and a great team to be part of,” said DDG Macmillan.

Apply Here(Opens in a new tab/window) To learn more and apply to be a vetting analyst

Listen via Acast(Opens in a new tab/window) To access the full podcast

27 November 2023


  • NIC

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