Counter Terrorism Planning

It is an unfortunate fact that few places are safe from the threat of the terrorism these days. While it is the job of Governments to deter, detect, disrupt and incarcerate would-be terrorists, organisations can, and should, play a critical role as well. Counter terrorism planning is key to this.

The Terrorism Threat

According to ASIO, “The primary terrorist threat in Australia today comes from a small number of Australia-based individuals who are committed to a violent anti-Western, Sunni Islamist extremist ideology. These individuals present a direct threat as well as a secondary threat through their ability to influence others.[1]

Notwithstanding the organisation’s role, ASIO goes on to say that “ While large-scale attacks, including coordinated attacks by multiple individuals, are still occurring around the world, the most apparent threat in Australia mirrors international trends towards simpler ‘lone actor’ attacks that require minimal preparation. Many terrorist attacks and disrupted plots in Australia have involved individuals or small groups who were radicalised, often through isolated online activity, to the point where they were willing to use violence to act out their politically or religiously motivated grievances. This type of threat can develop quickly, typically requires little preparation or planning, and can come from individuals who are on the periphery of investigations or who are unknown to authorities.”

Threat Characteristics

As the summary suggests, the types of attacks most relevant to Australia include those able to be perpetrated by individuals or small groups of affiliated threat actors, and most likely those driven by extremist ideology.

Media reporting illustrates the variation in contemporary threat acts within Australia and includes those involving sharp-edged items (knives etc.), guns, vehicles and other weapons.

Intended target locations are often very difficult to pinpoint with certainty, requiring planners to assume that an incident could arise anywhere, and to plan holistically.

Planning for Terrorism

The Australian Government has developed a range of guidelines and other resources directed at organisations, owners and operators of crowded places to “…understand and implement protective security measures.” These include:

Each has been made available through the National Security website.

Counter Terrorism Planning Steps

There are multiple planning methods to counter acts of terrorism, depending upon the context. Relevant entities undertake bomb blast analysis during construction planning for example, with a view to hardening infrastructure to the effects of detonated explosive devices.

Others may require stringent background checking beyond standard practices, specific methods of training, and/or installation of bollards to protect pedestrians and buildings. Each context is naturally different, at least in subtle ways, and thus requires a risk-based approach that is tailored to the context.

Regardless of the differences in operational/tactical measures, most agree that the Government’s Comprehensive Model represents a broadly encompassing approach. This model promotes the undertaking of planning around preventative, preparatory, response and recovery (PPRR) stages.

In addition, a more tactical model for addressing security threats, which includes establishing methods to deter, detect, delay and (create time to) respond, is clearly relevant and complementary to the Comprehensive/PPRR Model.

Sample Counter-Terrorism Measures

Industry Risk has advised numerous clients in the implementation of counter terrorism measures, including the following examples:


§  Security governance (roles and policies)

§  Security Risk Management

§  Risk Treatment Planning (including in relation to a wide range of protective measures, such as blast analysis, bollards, incident protocols, alert systems etc.)


§  Plans and procedures

§  Training, testing and exercising

§  Communications strategies

§  Raising awareness

§  Contingency planning


§  Business Continuity Planning

§  Bomb Threat Response

§  Search and Evacuation Planning

§  Lockdown Planning


§  Welfare support

§  Project managing restoration

§  Documenting lessons learned

§  Continual improvement

 Why do it?

In the terrorism context, proactive planning clearly promotes the safety and wellbeing of staff and others, especially where effective methods have been established to detect and delay threat actors, while giving staff sufficient time to respond to the presence of a threat actor.

Importantly, this notion complements and contributes to delivering on employer obligations for a safe working environment, as required by Workplace Health and Safety legislation.

Where to Apply Counter Terrorism Planning

As mentioned previously, an act of terrorism can be perpetrated at practically any location. In most cases such acts are committed by persons unknown to victims, but in other instances they have proven to be co-workers and/or colleagues. Individuals who travel are also exposed, and possibly more so, especially where they visit higher risk destinations. Local planning should encompass such travel in the course of mitigating associated risks.

Industry Risk has assisted innumerable clients over many years, including many of the most prominent public and private sector organisations across Australia and the region. This has included across multiple sectors, including in support of the Department of Defence following a disrupted attack at Holsworthy Army Barracks in 2009.

If you require counter terrorism planning assistance, contact Industry Risk today to see how Australia’s leading light in security can help your organisation to maximise the safety of your staff and workplaces.