Building Security Professionalism in Australasia
Australia and New Zealand have been working together to enhance security professionalism, recognition and registration, paralleling similar efforts in the UK.
Two significant initiatives have been the creation of the Australasian Council of Security Professionals (ACSP) and the creation of the Security Professionals Registery – Australasia (SPR-A). This article provides an overview of this work and points to the significant opportunities for Commonwealth co-operation in this important area.
A voice for all security professionals
The ACSP was the initiative of individuals who felt that there was a need to develop a recognised, respected and dynamic security profession within the Australasian region.
The individual motives varied, but there was a consensus that the professional end of the security service continuum was neither well defined nor effective in presenting its voice to government and the wider community.
As an Australasian (Australia, New Zealand and region) organisation of security professionals, the ACSP advances and promotes security professional ideals, conduct, standards and practice for the benefit of the community.
It does this by:
- Communicating the benefits of professionalism and ethical practice
- Providing the means for sharing information, ideas and expertise
- Developing and promoting policies on matters of interest to the ACSP
- Encouraging wide debate on security professional matters;
- Providing Governments with reliable and objective advice on relevant issues
To achieve these aims ASCP has established the following Advisory Boards:
- Education and Certification
- Government Relations
- National and International Standards
- Ethics and Behavioral Standards
As of January 2012 the ACSP had initiated projects addressing:
- Identification of the courses (specifically tertiary-level) delivering security-specific and security-related qualifications and determining if there is a requirement to develop additional qualifications and courses to meet the needs of the security profession and the broader community.
- The establishment of the Security Professionals Registery – Australasia.
- Compilation of security-specific gaps in standards and make recommendations.
- Identification and discussion with agencies about the role of security in disaster planning and response.
The current organisational members are:
- ASIS International
- Australian Homeland Security Research Centre
- Australian Information Security Association
- Canberra Institute of Technology
- Edith Cowen University
- New Zealand Security Association
- Police, Intelligence & Counter Terrorism Centre of Macquarie University
- Security Providers Association of Australia Limited
- Standards Australia
- Victorian Security Institute
Recognition and registration
The Security Professionals Registry – Australasia (SPR-A) was an initiative of the ACSP, with support from the Australian Commonwealth Government and was established to provide leadership and management of a system providing security registration and certification which would determine professionalism within the security industry.
Registration allows security professionals to have their skills, qualifications, experience and attributes assessed, recognised and registered. The manner in which registration is carried out is similar to the way other professionals are measured and registered. Registration with the SPR-A proves a security professional’s competency within the industry.
The SPR-A also benefits the community and government by providing a register of those professionals who have been assessed by their peers as having the skills, qualifications, experience and attributes required in the security discipline.
The purposes of the register
The main purpose of the Security Registry is to support the development of the professionalism of security practitioners, and over time to establish and enhance the professional status of security practitioners as “a disciplined group of individuals who adhere to high ethical standards and uphold themselves to, and are accepted by, the public as possessing special knowledge and skills in a widely recognised, organised body of learning derived from education and training at a high level, and who are prepared to exercise this knowledge and these skills in the interest of others.” (Definition of ‘professions’ – Australian Council of Professions.)
The second purpose of the Security Registry is to establish effective competencies and ethical standards that enhance the capacity of security practitioners to meet their primary duty to the community and facilitate their transition to and maintenance of professional status.
Registration is for three years and is based on peer-assessment of qualifications as well as demonstrated competencies and other defined criteria. Applicants can seek to be registered in one or more security sub-disciplines (personnel security, physical security, information technology and communications, security risk management, and/or security enterprise management).
Applicants can either be registered as a ‘Registered Security Professional’ or an ‘Enrolled Security Practitioner’. Evidence of continuous professional development will be required to maintain registration.
The code of ethics
The ACSP recognises that many security professionals are members of relevant associated security and professional organisations and are bound by the codes of ethics and standards of their respective memberships, and these respective codes will have equal weighting and supplement and complement the general code of ethical conduct expected of persons who are deemed to be members of the security profession.
The Council sets down this code of professional ethical conduct to guide the professional and personal conduct of all security professionals and, in particular, members of the Council.
This code must be observed at all times by all members of the Council so that they remain a fit and proper person to represent the profession. Members of the profession, in particular Registered or Enrolled Security Professionals, are expected to adhere to and demonstrate behaviours commensurate with the intent and spirit of the Code.
Code of ethical conduct
A security professional must:
- Act in the interests of the security of society and their client.
- Perform their duties in accordance with the law and in line with statutory requirementsat all times.
- Act and behave at all times with integrity.
- Be competent in discharging their professional responsibilities.
- Be diligent and faithful in the discharge of their professional responsibilities.
- Maintain and not disclose confidential information to any unauthorised party and such information must not be used for personal benefit.
- Not maliciously injure the professional reputation or practice of colleagues, clients or employers.
- Members must not knowingly associate with any individual or enterprise that engages in illegal or improper activities or methods for securing business.
The last of the three supporting “legs” for our security stool was the establishment of the Security Medals Foundation. This recognises acts of valour and excellence in security professionalism. Each year, the ASMF will award two categories of medal:
- The Australian Security Medal of Valour (ASMV), recognising acts of bravery andinitiative; and
- The Australian Security Medal (ASM), recognising contribution to security of outstanding citizenship, positive leadership, insights or influence at a strategic management level.
As a complementary activity, the Foundation supports charitable and research activities in the area of security.
Readers in the UK will recognise many of the same concerns and issues currently being addressed by the SyI, the Worshipful Company and the Chartered activities. There have been preliminary discussions between executives of the Australasian groups and those in the UK for mutual support and recognition. Similar discussions are ongoing with Canada. These discussions will lead to opportunities to enhance security professionalism and co-operation firstly between UK and Australasia and potentially across the broader Commonwealth.
The author can be contacted for any further information concerning these activities.
Jason L Brown, FSyI, CSyP, ASM
National Security Director
Thales Australia & New Zealand
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