Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions

Counter Terrorism

Counter Terrorism

In 2002, following the attacks on New York City and Washington on 11 September 2001, the Criminal Code was significantly amended to include a range of counter-terrorism offences. These cover a wide range of conduct relating to terrorist acts, terrorist organisations and financing terrorism.

In addition, other Commonwealth and state legislation exists that may be applicable to violent conduct motivated by political or religious ideology.

Making an assessment

As with other matters, we assess counter-terrorism prosecution briefs of evidence from investigative agencies in accordance with the Prosecution Policy of the Commonwealth. We also provide legal assistance to investigative agencies before briefs of evidence are compiled, and contribute to Australian Government projects relating to counter-terrorism.

Counter-terrorism prosecutions are often highly contested and can be the subject of multiple legal challenges. Resolving these matters can take a number of years as legal arguments and appeals progress through the court system.

  • Counter-terrorism prosecutions play an important part in deterring those who seek to cause harm to persons, or damage to property, with the intention of coercing or intimidating Australia or its people to advance a religious or political cause.

Key legislation

Main offences

  • s.101.1(1) Criminal Code—terrorist act
  • s.101.5(1) Criminal Code—collecting or making documents likely to facilitate terrorist acts (knowledge)
  • s.102.7(1) Criminal Code—providing support to a terrorist organisation (knowledge)


  • The maximum penalty for engaging in a terrorist act is life imprisonment.
  • The maximum penalty for collecting or making a document knowing it is likely to facilitate terrorist acts is 15 years’ imprisonment.
  • The maximum penalty for providing support to a terrorist organisation knowing that the organisation is a terrorist organisation is 25 years’ imprisonment.

Partner agencies

Law Reform


Terrorism legislation including the Criminal Code has been frequently amended since 2002.


  • COAG Review of Counter-Terrorism Legislation Report 2013
  • Counter-Terrorism White Paper 2010
  • Street Review 2008
  • Report of the Inquiry into Potential Reforms of Australia’s National Security Legislation by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Intelligence & Security 2013