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How Security Clearances And Sponsorship Works In Defence Industry

By Sophie Richards on 23 June 2021

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​Working in Australia’s defence industry often means coming into contact with sensitive and secret information pertaining to national sovereignty - for that you’ll need a security clearance. Don’t know what a security clearance is? Find out here.

As you would expect, they’re not handed out frivolously.

The Australian Government Security Vetting Agency (AGSVA), which is responsible for approving or rejecting applications, has a strict process and selection criteria that must be adhered to.

Candidates looking to work on defence industry projects must be sponsored by either Australian Federal, State and Territory government agencies. There is also scope for private companies doing work on behalf of the Department of Defence to sponsor security clearances, if they are a member of the Defence Industry Security Program (DISP).

Any Australian business looking to become part of the defence industry supply chain can apply for DISP membership, and depending on the type of work they’re undertaking, membership is often mandated. DISP has four membership levels, which dictate the nature and sensitivity of the Defence information the organisation is permitted to engage with.

Candidates don’t need a security clearance to apply

Obviously from a company point of view, advertising for workers who already have security clearances would make sense. However, if you are applying for a job in the defence industry from an adjacent industry, such as the aerospace, automotive or mining sectors, it is unlikely you will already have a clearance.

Despite the timelines involved in obtaining a clearance, defence industry organisations do accept candidates who are not currently cleared. Once a worker is employed by a member of DISP, that person can then be sponsored for a clearance. For more information on the timelines, read our blogon the subject.

Also, under Australian Government financial rules, companies bidding for defence industry contracts don’t have an advantage if their staff already hold security clearances. Instead, companies must request security clearances during the contracting stage if their bid is successful. 

That’s good for workers looking to move across to the defence industry, but also for the industry more broadly, which is currently experiencing a significant skills shortage as government Defence spending ramps up over the coming years.

Non-citizens are still eligible 

There’s also some flexibility around the citizenship of prospective workers.

While it does make the process simpler for both the hiring company and the candidate, if the prospective employee is an Australian citizen, there is provision for non-citizens to gain security clearances. If a genuine need can be proven, companies can gain security clearances for foreign workers under a citizenship eligibility waiver arrangement.

That’s obviously going to add a little more paperwork to what is already a very rigorous and stringent process, but it does show there’s opportunities for both employers and workers outside the immediate gamut. 

A rewarding career move

With all the restrictions and paperwork involved, moving across to the defence industry from an adjacent industry can seem a little daunting. However, working in the defence industry is extremely rewarding; offering interesting projects and roles and amazing professional advancement along with a unique opportunity to contribute to the nation’s wellbeing.

Kinexus can provide you with the advice and guidance to navigate your next career move.

If you're looking for work and hold a current security clearance, give us a call or have a look at our open opportunities.

Photo by Masaaki Komori on Unsplash

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