1. This policy sets out how South Australian Government agencies can manage any risks when people stop working for them, including ensuring departing employees maintain the requirement to protect South Australian Government information and resources.
  2. In this context, employee separation includes:
    1. employees leaving an agency, via transfer to another agency, resignation from the public sector or end of contract
    2. those whose employment has been terminated for any reason [1]
    3. employees transferring either temporarily or permanently to another state, territory or Commonwealth Government agency
    4. those taking extended leave [2]
  3. This policy is to be applied in conjunction with South Australian Protective Security Framework (SAPSF) policies Recruiting employees and Maintaining employee suitability.

[1] For employees covered by the Public Sector Act 2009, section 54 outlines potential grounds for termination. Additionally, some agencies may have other applicable legislation outlining termination provisions.

[2] This policy does not define a period of time for where ‘extended leave’ applies. See Extended leave for more guidance.

Securely manage the separation of all employees

  1. To ensure the secure separation of all employees, agencies [3] must:
    1. remove access to South Australian Government information and resources
    2. ensure sponsorship of security cleared employees [4] is withdrawn or transferred
    3. remind separating employees of their ongoing security obligations
    4. share information of security concern with the appropriate stakeholders or authorities [5]
    5. manage any residual risks following the individual's departure

[3] This policy applies to all South Australian public sector agencies (as defined in section 3(1) of the Public Sector Act 2009) and to any other person or organisation that is generally subject to the direction of a Minister of the Crown; all of which are referred to in this policy as “Agencies”.

[4] Including eligibility waivers and conditional security clearance holders

[5] Depending on the level of concern this may include the ASE, clearance sponsor, authorised vetting agency or the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO)


  1. Depending on the circumstances, employees separating from an agency can increase the risk of compromise to the agency’s information and resources. Appropriate and effective security management in an agency will ensure that all relevant security policies and legislative obligations are met.
  2. In line with this, agencies should develop effective, risk-based procedures and processes to support the requirement to securely manage the separation of all employees.

  1. Once a person separates from their role or agency within the South Australian Government, their requirement for ongoing access to official information and resources also ceases.
  2. Agencies must remove access to both physical facilities and resources, information and communication technology (ICT) systems, as well as recover any agency property they have (including devices, access cards, keys etc.).
  3. It is recommended that agencies sequence the removal of access to ensure they maintain the ability to successfully remove all access that person may have had. Table 1 provides examples of actions that may be required, and the sequence they may be undertaken.

Table 1 - Actions that may be taken before and after employee separation

Before separating
  1. Recover ICT equipment of physical assets that have been issued to employees (e.g., tablets, USB keys, mobile phones etc.)
  2. Recover corporate credit cards
  3. Recover any hardcopy material (originals and/or copies)
After separating
  1. disable access to ICT systems, including email, telephone, voicemail, Citrix, and any cloud accounts. Ensure any additional external access to systems has also been disabled
  2. remove physical access to facilities and resources (including keys and access cards)
  3. change or remove combinations or locks ((e.g., doors, safes or security containers) that the person had access to
  1. If an agency allows transfer of ownership of ICT equipment to separating employees, or the use of personal devices for work purposes, agencies must ensure:
    1. any business-related documents are archived in accordance with the agency’s records management procedures
    2. all agency information is removed, including access to any back-ups
    3. all agency software applications are removed and access disabled
    4. if necessary, erase the content of the device’s hard drive entirely.

  1. All security clearances require sponsorship from an authorised entity to be deemed valid. Sponsorship is based upon the assessment that the employees involved are required to hold a valid security clearance based upon their role and responsibilities of that role.

Removing sponsorship

  1. In South Australia, the Department of the Premier and Cabinet (DPC) sponsors all security clearances [7]. DPC will only maintain sponsorship of a security clearance where an agency’s ASE continues to authorise the need for the clearance.
  2. If a security clearance holder separates from an agency, the agency must notify the clearance sponsor and withdraw authorisation for sponsorship of that clearance. The clearance sponsor will then notify the authorised vetting agency who will amend the status [8] of the security clearance accordingly.
  3. Agencies must advise the clearance sponsor if the separation is a result of any misconduct or security incident or concern. If other agencies may be impacted by these findings, ASEs from those agencies should also be notified.
  4. Transferring sponsorship

  5. If the separating person is transferring, either temporarily or permanently, to another South Australian agency, agencies must notify the clearance sponsor and, where possible, provide details of the transfer.
  6. If the person is transferring outside of the South Australian Government, then agencies must notify the clearance sponsor that the sponsorship needs to be withdrawn. If the person still requires their security clearance for their new position, they and the receiving agency are responsible for ensuring the sponsorship is transferred to an appropriate authority [9].
  7. If an agency is receiving security cleared employees from another South Australian Government agency, the agency must notify the clearance sponsor as to whether sponsorship of the clearance is still required. If the clearance is still required, the ASE must provide authorisation to the clearance sponsor.
  8. If an agency is receiving security cleared employees from outside the South Australian Government, the agency must ensure sponsorship of the security clearance is transferred to the appropriate South Australian clearance sponsor. Please see South Australian Security Clearances for more information.
  9. Transferring personal security files

  10. If a clearance holder transfers to another agency covered by a different authorised vetting agency, the personal security vetting file of the clearance holder must also be transferred to the new authorised vetting agency. Specific guidance for transferring personal security vetting files is available under PSPF policy Separating personnel.

[6] Removed reference

[7] South Australia Police (SAPOL) is an authorised vetting agency and clearance sponsor of SAPOL employees for NV1 and NV2 level security clearances.

[8] PSPF policy Eligibility and suitability of personnel provides definitions of the statuses that are applied to security clearances

[9]  Authorised vetting agencies must only issue security clearances where it is sponsored by an Australian Government entity, or otherwise authorised by the Australian Government.

  1. All separating employees, whether departing temporarily or permanently, must be reminded of any ongoing security obligations they have associated with their former position.
  2. People with access to sensitive or security classified information must be debriefed prior to separation. This may include if employees have ever been briefed into certain security caveats or compartments that have additional briefing/debriefing requirements [10].
  3. Separating employees also have ongoing obligations under various legislation [11] as well as information relating to intellectual property [12] and agencies must ensure separating employees are aware of these obligations.
  4. Separating employees should also be reminded of their contact reporting obligations (see SAPSF policy Maintaining employee suitability).
  5. It is recommended that agencies provide separating employees the opportunity to confidentially express any security concerns relating to agency procedures or colleagues prior to separation.

[10] Access to some information is subject to additional security requirements, such as caveat or compartment briefings. As ongoing access to such information is strictly need-to-know, employees no longer requiring access must be debriefed by the caveat or compartment owner.

[11] For example, Crimes Act 1914 and Criminal Code Act 1995

[12] Any intellectual property invented or created as a result an individual’s employment will remain the property of the Crown, unless otherwise agreed in writing between the accountable authority and employee.

  1. There are potentially many stakeholders who may need to be made aware of information of security concern relating to an agency's employees. Agencies must ensure that all information sharing both within and within outside of the agency is consistent with the DPC Circular PC012 -  Information Privacy Principles (IPPS) Instruction.

With  ASEs

  1. If an agency plans to terminate a person’s employment on account of misconduct or security grounds, the agency’s ASE or relevant security adviser must be notified. Agencies are responsible for implementing appropriate separation procedures which should be based upon a risk-assessment of the separation.

With other agencies

  1. If any risk is identified to another agency’s interests or their security procedures, agencies must notify the ASE of the affected agency as soon as practicable.

With new employers

  1. If the separating person is transferring, either temporarily or permanently, to another state, territory or Commonwealth Government agency, agencies must provide the new agency with any relevant security information. This information should include the outcome of pre-employment and periodic employment suitability checks, and any security mitigations that may have been required during the employment.
  2. It is recommended that agencies recognise any pre-employment and periodic employment suitability checks that have already been undertaken where they meet the agency’s requirements.

With the clearance sponsor/authorised vetting agency

  1. For any security clearance holders in an agency, any information of security concern to the clearance sponsor or the authorised vetting agency must be provided.
  2. Information of security concern must be reported to enable a clearance holder’s suitability to be assessed.
  3. The clearance sponsor or authorised vetting agency may report information of security concern to ASIO where required.

  1. Sometimes, employees will depart agencies without undertaking or completing all required separation procedures. This could be due to illness, injury, or simply where the person refuses to participate.
  2. In such circumstances, all of the other requirements of this policy must still be applied, where possible, such as removal of access to systems and facilities, or cancelling sponsorship of security clearances, if applicable.
  3. For elements of the separation process that cannot be completed, agencies must undertake a risk assessment for any residual aspect to the individual’s employment that have not been resolved. Any risks identified that fall outside an agency’s risk tolerance must have appropriate mitigations applied.

  1. Under this policy, separation includes employees taking extended leave. This policy does not define a period of time considered ‘extended leave’, [13] it is recommended that agencies take a risk-based approach to determine a period of ‘extended leave’ based on the risk tolerance and function of the agency and the nature of the role in question.
  2. If the risk assessment determines the circumstances around the individual’s plans for extended leave determines the risk is low enough, then application of this policy may not be required.

[13]  Except for security clearance holders. If a security clearance holder goes on extended leave (greater than 6 months), they will have the status of their clearance changed to ‘inactive’. The clearance can be made ‘active’ again by the clearance sponsor when the individual returns to work, and any required vetting updates have been undertaken.

Approved by: Chief Executive, Department of the Premier and CabinetDate of first approval: 20 April 2020
Revision number: 2.0Date of review: 30 November 2022
Next review date: December 2024Contact: sapsf@sa.gov.au

Change log

1.020/04/2020First issue of policy
1.121/08/2020Definition of 'personnel' updated
2.030/11/2022Policy reviewed, no changes