Countering Terrorism

The New South Wales (NSW) Police Force is committed to engaging with the community on counter terrorism issues.

As the lead agency for counter terrorism in NSW, the police are keen to improve police understanding of community concerns relating to the terrorism powers, and to increase community understanding of the terrorism arrangements in NSW.

Alert Level

National Terrorism Threat Advisory System

Australia's current National Terrorism Threat Level is PROBABLE.
Alert level chart

The National Terrorism Threat Advisory System is a scale of five levels to provide advice about the likelihood of an act of terrorism occurring in Australia:

When the threat level changes, the Australian Government provides advice on what the threat level means, where the threat is coming from, potential targets and how a terrorist act may be carried out.

The National Terrorism Threat Level is regularly reviewed in line with the security environment and intelligence.

It is important to be aware of the current threat level and to report any suspicious incidents to the National Security Hotline on 1800 1234 00.

Public advice

The National Terrorism Threat Level for Australia is PROBABLE. Credible intelligence, assessed by our security agencies indicates that individuals or groups have developed both the intent and capability to conduct a terrorist attack in Australia. The public should continue to exercise caution and report any suspicious incidents to the National Security Hotline by calling 1800 1234 00. Life-threatening situations should be reported to the police by calling Triple Zero (000).

We must maintain vigilance in the face of an escalating global terrorist threat that continues to affect Australia. This multifaceted threat was the reason the Commonwealth Government took the unprecedented step of raising the national terrorism threat level in September 2014. The factors that underpinned that decision persist, and some have worsened. Those who wish to do us harm, some located here and some overseas, continue to view Australia as a legitimate target.

Where does the threat come from?

A small number of people in Australia adhere to an interpretation of Islam that is selective, violent and extreme. They are influenced by extreme messaging from terrorist groups such as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) who are active online spreading their violent ideology and channelling persuasive propaganda to susceptible, vulnerable and easily influenced individuals.

The radicalisation and recruitment of Australians is increasing. Violent extremists are reaching out to those willing to listen and encouraging them either to join ISIL or conduct attacks in its name. In some cases specific directions have been provided to conduct acts of terrorism here. Others, including those that are not in direct contact with violent extremists overseas, may be influenced by propaganda to undertake acts of terrorism in Australia. Those radicalised to violent extremism may display behavioural changes, develop new social networks and associations, withdraw from previous ones and promote an extremist ideology.

Recent large, coordinated terrorist attacks are concerning and the small number of Australia-based ISIL sympathisers and supporters might be emboldened by the perceived success of their overseas counterparts. Additionally, ISIL will glorify recent attacks, such as those in France and Mali and the attack on Metrojet Flight 9268, in propaganda to motivate and inspire their Western-based sympathisers and supporters. Elements of some of these recent attacks, such as the use of firearms and explosives as weapons, the capturing of hostages, and the focus on 'soft' targets, could be employed in an attack in Australia.

What are the likely targets?

Symbols of government and authorities perceived as terrorist adversaries, such as the military, police and security agencies, are often targeted by terrorists. However, indiscriminate attacks are increasing, and the risk to the general public in Australia remains. Overseas extremists have encouraged local sympathisers and supporters to attack the public anywhere—attacks and plots in Europe and Africa in late 2015 targeting the public underscore this threat. Attacks of this nature are designed to cause injury or death and are aimed at disrupting our lives and damaging the nation by causing fear. This is why it is important for the public to maintain a level of awareness and to report any suspicious activity immediately to authorities.

How would an attack occur?

The most likely form for a terrorist attack in Australia would be an attack by an individual or a small group of like-minded individuals. However, a larger, more coordinated attack cannot be ruled out. Threats can develop quickly, moving to an act of violence with little preparation or planning.

It is highly likely that a terrorist attack in Australia would use weapons and tactics that are low-cost and relatively simple, including basic weapons, explosives and/or firearms. These are commonly used in terrorist attacks overseas and featured in the September 2014 attack on police officers in Melbourne, the December 2014 Martin Place siege in Sydney and the fatal shooting outside New South Wales Police headquarters in Parramatta in October 2015.

  • Basic weapons are readily available, everyday objects that do not require specialist skills. Terrorists have used basic weapons such as knives, machetes and even cars to conduct lethal attacks.
  • Explosives remain a favoured terrorist weapon globally. Homemade explosives can be manufactured from readily available materials. Improvised explosive devices do not need to be large to be effective and can be easily concealed.
  • Firearms can be sourced through legal and illicit channels.

Our response

Federal, state and territory governments continue to focus on strengthening preventative efforts in partnership with industry and building Australia’s social cohesion, together with the community.

  • Governments are working closely with communities to prevent terrorism, combat terrorist propaganda online and promote early intervention programmes.
  • Federal, state and territory authorities have well-tested cooperative arrangements in place and have adopted appropriate security measures.
  • Police and security agencies liaise closely with critical infrastructure owners and operators.

In the current environment, Australians should go about their daily business as usual but should exercise caution and be aware of events immediately around them.

If you see, hear or become aware of something suspicious or unusual, call the National Security Hotline on 1800 1234 00. Every call is important and could prevent a terrorist attack in Australia.

How can I get more information about security in NSW as a result of the raised Alert Level?

The NSW Police Facebook page will carry regular updates every time fresh information comes to hand. You can "like" the NSW Police Facebook page at:

There are a number of very good sources of information. The secureNSW website is specifically dedicated to security issues:

Secure NSW

NSW Police Force Facebook page

NSW Police Force Engagement Intervention Unit

The NSW Police Force Engagement Intervention Unit engages with community groups on terrorism related issues. The unit aims to increase community awareness of counter terrorism arrangements and to build police understanding of their impacts on the community. In addition, there are other NSW Police Force programs in place to encourage tolerance and mutual respect such as the community liaison officers in local area police offices.

Useful Links

NSW Government countering terrorism in NSW - Secure NSW

National Security Hotline - 1800 123 400.