Last updated 22 August 2016

Division 101 of the Criminal Code Act 1995 (Cth) (Criminal Code) sets out a range of serious criminal offences relating to terrorist acts. The basic offence is that of doing a terrorist act (s 101.1 Criminal Code), which is punishable by life imprisonment. However, in practice this offence has proved less important than a range of other offences relating to the preparation of terrorist acts. These include offences for:

  • providing or receiving training connected with terrorist acts (s 101.2)
  • possessing things connected with terrorist acts (s 101.4)
  • collecting or making documents likely to facilitate terrorist acts (s 101.5)
  • doing any other act in preparation for a terrorist act (s 101.6).

The last of these is punishable by life imprisonment. Several individuals have been successfully prosecuted for a conspiracy to commit this offence and have received serious criminal penalties (up to 28 years imprisonment) for agreeing to prepare a terrorist act.

Another major category of offences is that relating to terrorist organisations. The Australian government maintains a list of terrorist organisations for this purpose. These are set out in Regulations made under the Criminal Code, and the list includes al-Qaeda, Islamic State and other known terrorist organisations. Alternatively, a court may decide that a group of individuals is a terrorist organisation if the group is ‘… directly or indirectly engaged in, preparing, planning, assisting in or fostering the doing of a terrorist act’.

The offences relating to terrorist organisations are:

  • directing the activities of a terrorist organisation (s 102.2)
  • membership of a terrorist organisation (s 102.3)
  • recruiting for a terrorist organisation (s 102.4)
  • training involving a terrorist organisation (s 102.5)
  • getting funds to or from a terrorist organisation (102.6)
  • providing support to a terrorist organisation (s 102.7)
  • associating with a terrorist organisation (s 102.8).

Exemptions are available where an association is between family members and relates only to a matter of family or domestic concern, or where the association is for the purpose of religious worship, providing humanitarian aid or for the purpose of providing legal advice in connection with criminal and other proceedings.

Other offences in the Criminal Code address the financing of terrorism (div 103) and using explosive or lethal devices for terrorist activities (div 72).