Border Force Officer

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The role of customs officers and of immigration officers is now performed by Border Force Officers.

Border Force officers manage the security and integrity of Australia's borders. Border Force officers check people and goods entering Australia for illegal and prohibited substances. They mainly work at international airports, seaports or outposts along the Australian coastline, examining passengers, luggage, cargo, mail and the Future Growth Static crews of planes and ships to prevent the illegal entry into Australia of prohibited, quarantined or dutiable goods. They also patrol Australian waters to intercept and deter people smugglers.

They also work in offices and processing centres throughout Australia. Border Force officers examine travellers' passports on arrival in Australia, checking for forged documents. They also assess applications for working and student visas, permanent residency and claims for asylum. As part of the assessment process they may be required to conduct personal interviews with passengers or visa applicants, using an interpreter where necessary.

When illegal goods are detected, Border Force officers have the power to make arrests, and may provide evidence in court.

Alternative names: Customs and Border Protection Officer; Customs Officer

Knowledge, skills and attributes

Border Force Officers are multiskilled and usually work as part of a team or under general supervision.

A Border Force Officer needs:
Border Force Officers Detector Dogs

  • excellent communication skills
  • excellent interpersonal skills
  • good organisational and planning skills
  • to be respectful and understanding of a range of different cultures  - courteous and efficient
  • good analytical and research skills
  • the ability to remain calm and patient in high pressure situations
  • the ability to work both independently and as part of a team
  • to be flexible and resourceful
  • high ethical standards
  • able to deal with increasingly sophisticated technologies
  • able to pass a medical and fitness examination
  • able to satisfy security requirements
  • at least 18 years of age
  • Australian citizenship

Duties and tasks

Border Force officers may perform the following tasks:

  • process and assess risk levels of all passengers and crew entering or leaving Australia
  • board ships and aircraft to check compliance with regulations and search for undocumented cargo and people or prohibited goods
  • check documents, examine luggage and clear goods for import or export
  • seize and destroy prohibited imports
  • respond to public and industry enquiries
  • engage with clients, travelers and the general public
  • collect tariffs and duty, and refund GST to tourists
  • monitor security in Border Force controlled areas, including wharves and airport tarmac areas
  • perform administrative work as required

Working conditions

Border Force officers work in airports, ports and in regional centres on the coast throughout Australia. Most Border Force officers transfer between a number of departments and offices throughout their career, which may require moving to regional locations or interstate. A number of roles within the Customs service involves shiftwork, which may include working nights, weekends and public holidays.

Border Force officers working in immigration typically work at immigration offices and processing centres or international airports around Australia. There may also be limited opportunities to work overseas in Australian embassies and consulates. They have a high level of contact with people from a range of cultural backgrounds, with varying levels of English language skills. The work can be stressful when dealing with difficult or complicated cases, and immigration officers must remain calm. Border Force officers working at airports and other points of entry to Australia may be required to work shifts, which can include nights, weekends and public holidays.

Border Force officers have a high level of contact with the public and often have to deal with people who are upset, angry or otherwise confrontational.

Most officers work closely with the public and related industry personnel.

During initial training and in the early stages of their careers, officers can expect to be moved through a number of different areas. This may include periods of transfer to different locations around Australia depending on operational requirements.

Some work areas require shiftwork and overtime.


Tools and technologies
ABF

Border Force officers use equipment such as x-ray machines and ion scanners to check passengers, luggage and parcels for drugs, weapons and other illegal or dangerous substances. Border Force officers also use specially trained detector dogs to locate certain prohibited goods. The Border Force Marine Unit uses large patrol vessels and smaller speed boats for boarding operations, along with general maritime safety equipment. Some Border Forces officers may also carry firearms.

Border Force officers working in immigration use standard office equipment to research and process visa applications. They are required to keep detailed records detailing the reasons why an application was approved or denied, and so will have to be familiar with departmental record keeping and archiving practices. Immigration officers working at airports, monitoring the arrival of international visitors, may use surveillance equipment.


Education and training/entrance requirements

To become a Border Force officer within the Department of Immigration and Border Protection (DIBP) you must pass the Australian Border Force recruitment process and complete training at the Australian Border Force College.

Australian Border Force
New badge of the Australian Border Force

Applicants must be an Australian citizen, at least 18 years old and meet medical, fitness, aptitude and psychometric requirements for the role.

You must also obtain an Employee Suitability Clearance from the DIBP and a minimum Baseline Commonwealth security clearance from the Australian Government Security Vetting Agency.

Successful applicants are required to attend a six month training program at the Australian Border Force College. Upon completion the training, you become a probationary officer and participate in a series of work placements for six months. After successfully completing your work placement you will then become a Border Force officer.

Contact the Department of Immigration and Border Protection for more information.

Did You Know?

On 1 July 2015, the functions of the Department of Immigration and Border Protection and the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service were integrated into a new Department - The Australian Border Force.

The Australian Border Force is headed by a statutory officer - a Commissioner - reporting directly to the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection on operational matters, responsible for managing these operations and commanding officers.

Roman Quaedvlieg

Roman Quaedvlieg APM

Mr Roman Quaedvlieg is the Australian Border Force Commissioner, a role he was appointed to when the Australian Border Force (ABF) started operations on 1 July 2015. Prior to becoming the ABF Commissioner, Mr Quaedvlieg was the Chief Executive Officer of the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, a role he commenced in October 2014.

Mr Quaedvlieg first began with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service in May 2013, after being appointed the Deputy Chief Executive Officer Border Enforcement.

Prior to his appointment with the Australian Customs and Border Protection Service, Mr Quaedvlieg was the Chief Police Officer of ACT Policing, the community policing arm of the Australian Federal Police (AFP).


Mr Quaedvlieg has a Bachelor of Justice from the Queensland University of Technology, and is undertaking a Master of Business Administration at the Melbourne Business School. He was awarded an Australian Police Medal in 2011 for serving the Australian community with distinction, particularly in the areas of police operations and administration.
(Source: Australian Border Force)

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