What's it like to work at AUSTRAC?

On this page you can hear from some of AUSTRAC's staff and find out what it's like to work for Australia's financial intelligence unit and anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing regulator.

What brought you to AUSTRAC?

I began my public service career at the Attorney-General’s Department where I worked on transnational crime policy, including AML/CTF legislative reform and engagement in global forums. Following an understanding of the broader financial crime environment, I was interested in working closer to the ‘coal face’ so AUSTRAC was perfect as Australia’s financial intelligence unit and AML/CTF regulator.

What do you do in your role?

I am currently posted to the Australian High Commission in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My role is to lead AUSTRAC’s engagement with South East Asian counterparts. This involves a wide variety of tasks including:

  • Establishing, building and maintaining relationships with foreign government partners, intergovernmental organisations, NGOs and academics.
  • Collaborating and exchanging information with foreign financial intelligence units to help ‘follow the money’ overseas, given that almost all serious and organised crimes and terrorist financing have an international dimension.
  • Implementing capacity building programs to uplift the capability of our partners to identify and disrupt serious financial crime and maintain the integrity of the region’s financial system.
  • Sharing AUSTRAC’s experience and expertise as a sophisticated and world-leading FIU and regulator, for example, best practice on operating a public-private partnership.
  • Understanding emerging financial crime risks impacting Australia and the region, and jointly working together to mitigate those risks, including through multilateral forums co-led by AUSTRAC.

What it is like to work at AUSTRAC?

It is genuinely a great place to work. I particularly enjoy the mission, which has a positive and tangible impact on society. The people are also dedicated, passionate and just downright friendly. From day one I have always felt welcomed and my work has always been appreciated.

Working at AUSTRAC has also given me the amazing opportunity to be posted overseas. It is an incredible experience to represent the agency on the global stage, and to meet and work with a diverse range of stakeholders.

In 2020, AUSTRAC was recognised as an Employer of Choice. Does that resonate with you?

Definitely – the agency is very deserving of this title, particularly due to our flexible working arrangements and focus on people and culture.

What brought you to AUSTRAC?

I wanted to be part of public policy from start to finish. This included being involved in creating legislative frameworks through to seeing policy being implemented in the real world.

Following the passing of the AML/CTF Act back in 2007/2008, AUSTRAC underwent a transformation to implement and educate on the new provisions, and there were many great opportunities to be part of the action.

Needless to say, I’m still here – the action (and opportunities) have not stopped!

What do you do in your role?

My work day can be varied: from speaking to businesses about the challenges they experience, exploring opportunities for legislative reform, or learning about new and emerging technologies and their ML/TF vulnerabilities. The icing on the cake for me was attending the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Plenary meetings in Germany. FATF is the international policy and standard-setting body for all things AML/CTF – it was an amazing experience to hear how other jurisdictions are implementing and improving their AML/CTF regimes. 

What is it like to work at AUSTRAC?

AUSTRAC as an organisation ticks all my boxes.

The work I do contributes to the public good – that is, the prevention and disruption of criminal abuse of our financial system and the protection of the community from serious and organised crime. Having previously worked in law enforcement and social justice environments, I like the buzz that comes from stopping criminal activity and helping others. AUSTRAC is unique as a regulator and financial intelligence unit, so it’s a privilege to do both: help law enforcement partners in their investigations and help businesses understand their risks and vulnerabilities. 

In 2020, AUSTRAC was recognised as an Employer of Choice. Does that resonate with you?

Yes! I would never have lasted this long in one place if I didn’t connect with the culture. 

Along with the engaging and meaningful work, AUSTRAC also offers flexible conditions and a great working environment. 

Ultimately though, while the work itself is interesting and the flexibility is available, it’s really the colleagues that keep me coming back! A positive culture is not about one person, and it’s not something ‘the boss’ can tell you to do. A positive working culture is because the people around you make the work environment more engaging and supportive.

What brought you to AUSTRAC?

I made the jump from State Government (NSW) with what I thought was a solid understanding of AUSTRAC’s role, having come from one of our partner agencies. I had seen the value of financial intelligence and how it supported law enforcement agencies and was very excited to join the agency. It wasn’t long after I started that I realised just how complex the regulatory, financial intelligence and policy landscape actually was.

What do you do in your role?

When I am at a BBQ talking about what I do I generally say ‘I work in IT’. My role and the work I do is diverse and challenging – I lead a team that supports a range of capabilities including information management and governance, support for our website and intranet, service management frameworks, as well as the coordination of our IT procurement. I am responsible for the delivery of two significant IT led collaboration projects, once of which is an international sharing capability which proudly led me to travel to different countries within the ASEAN region to progress.  I am even responsible for ensuring the preservation of AUSTRAC’s archives!

What it is like to work at AUSTRAC?

I have been at AUSTRAC for eleven years now and also part of my BBQ spiel is that I wouldn’t be here still if I didn’t like it. The work is interesting, I get to use modern tools, I feel like I am a person, not a number, I play part in influencing technology choices that support the enablement of our workforce and I feel that my contribution is genuine and appreciated. 

Even though once upon a time I actually knew everyone’s name, we are a growing organisation I believe that we have managed to preserve a small agency culture where people work as much for each other as they do for the agencies outcomes. 

In 2020, AUSTRAC was recognised as an Employer of Choice. Does that resonate with you?

Absolutely! Through my role I had the early heads-up we were likely to obtain the recognition and it felt almost like a no-brainer.  We have transitioned very well to a hybrid working environment and our frameworks around our human resources, security and operating landscape will hold us in good stead for many years to come.

Sarah reflects on the various opportunities at AUSTRAC, and the benefits of seeing the agency from a different perspective during an internal secondment.

What brought you to AUSTRAC?

I have always been impressed by AUSTRAC as a national agency. When I applied to work here, AUSTRAC was really starting to make waves in the financial services industries with its enforcement actions. AUSTRAC was showing a clear purpose and vision, led by a courageous CEO prepared to make difficult decisions to realise outcomes and protect our community. I saw AUSTRAC as an organisation fostering genuine change in a notoriously challenging area. I wanted in.

For me, having previous experience in both criminal law and government investigation, AUSTRAC’s unique intersection as both a financial intelligence unit and industry regulator was particularly appealing. I wanted to come to work each day with purpose – knowing that my skills and focus were being harnessed for something worthwhile.

What do you do in your role?

Normally, I am a Legal Officer in the Regulation, Education and Policy Division. The role focuses on critically assessing reporting entities’ compliance (or non-compliance) with our Act. I enjoy the comprehensive and vigorous nature of our investigations. We get the chance to deep dive into reporting entities’ anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism programs to understand whether the programs are effective in a day-to-day, practical way. It is humbling to be part of systemic change – to witness industry enhancement and reporting entities’ increased understanding that they fill a crucial and powerful role in the fight against financial crime in our country.

Right now, I am completing a 6-month internal secondment as a Senior Analyst in the Intelligence divison. This position focuses on analysing data holdings for potential criminal conduct and preparing intelligence reports for our law enforcement partners to assist with their investigations. The role requires robust stakeholder relationship management and objective analysis in high-pressure situations. It’s a position that comes with a large degree of responsibility. Fortunately, our Intelligence staff are outrageously bright and cucumber-cool under pressure.

Having worked in both divisions, I have had the rewarding opportunity to contribute towards a reporting entity’s uplift as part of an enforcement investigation, and then see the results of that uplift through the dramatically improved quality of their reporting to AUSTRAC. I have seen firsthand this entity’s suspicious matter reports (SMRs) be described as ‘the pinnacle’ of SMRs, and myself used those SMRs to inform law enforcement partners of potential criminal behaviour. I have certainly found the sense of purpose I was looking for when I applied here.

What it is like to work at AUSTRAC?

I have never worked anywhere like AUSTRAC.

AUSTRAC employees are encouraged to study and upskill, to travel for work, to engage in community initiatives, and to ensure we are always growing as employees and people. We are encouraged to work in different teams across the agency to increase skills and knowledge, as well as foster robust inter-agency connections. I am yet to meet a more passionate, knowledgeable and focussed group of people.

As the mother of a young child, I often find myself thankful for the level of flexibility and trust at AUSTRAC. The agency governs its relationship with each member of staff through a lens of inherent trust and respect. It is encouraged, in fact expected, that we bring our full and abundant selves to work. Whatever that might look like.

From the top down, the agency has a genuine investment in its people – we regularly hear members of the Executive express the notion that an organisations’ greatest asset is its people. Our leaders offer transparent, clear and regular messaging as to the agency’s focus and priorities. We understand the purpose of our efforts, and we are offered freedom to work creatively and collaboratively to achieve the agency’s goals.

Peter discusses his experience leading a team and working across a variety of projects at AUSTRAC, as well as offering his perspective as a new comer to the agency.

What brought you to AUSTRAC?

My decision to take on the Senior Product Engineer role in the Business Products team was driven by the exciting opportunity to work with world-class software development platforms that underpin our strong regulation and enhanced intelligence capabilities. AUSTRAC is a highly regarded employer within the industry with strong leadership and career development opportunities for its employees.

What do you do in your role?

I’m currently leading a team of software developers who are working in several different areas throughout the agency. We have a wide variety of projects underway, some new exciting work with major transformation on the horizon as well as some system improvements and consolidation work to support ongoing operational efficiencies. Our focus is always on delivering high-quality systems that are reliable, extendable and testable.

What’s it like to work at AUSTRAC?

My experience here has been really positive. I have been well supported by both the leadership team and also by my peers. There are many talented and skilled people working here, and we are all contributing to AUSTRAC’s goal of protecting the financial system from serious and organised crime which is fascinating. The work is always challenging and I enjoy that I am learning every day.

AUSTRAC has been recognised as an Employer of Choice, and a Top Ten Best Place to Work. What makes AUSTRAC a great place to work for you?

That doesn’t surprise me, because in the short period of time that I have been here, I would also recommend AUSTRAC as an employer. The strong culture, leadership, trust and concern for its workforce within the agency is genuine, and I feel valued as a member of the team.  AUSTRAC has also embraced hybrid work arrangements for staff with a combination of work in the office and at home. It’s one of the many flexible work practices AUSTRAC supports for employee wellbeing and flexibility that brings out the best in its people.

Tania discusses the technical capabilities required for such an integral role. This includes the shared sense of purpose and commitment that makes AUSTRAC a great place to work.

What brought you to AUSTRAC?

Six years ago I jumped at the chance to join the Enterprise Analytics team at AUSTRAC as a data scientist. My goal was to help realise AUSTRAC’s vision and do my part in researching, developing and releasing analytics solutions and products designed to enhance the work of all business areas across AUSTRAC.

What do you do in your role? 

I currently lead a team of data scientists, analytics engineers, data governance specialists and cryptography researchers. We deliver across a number of projects and core agency functions. The range of specialist skillsets in the team are complimentary, and the various projects and functions are all connected by the high level goal of enabling AUSTRAC to be data-driven and evidence-based.

For example, as part of our role, AUSTRAC collaborates with Pacific financial intelligence units to strengthen collaboration and identify and combat money laundering and terrorism financing threats in the South Pacific Island region. To contribute to this, my team are currently developing a data analysis platform so that Pacific analysts have access to the latest and most sophisticated data management and analysis tools.

What's it like to work at AUSTRAC?

I’m motivated by the fact that our work makes a difference. There's never a shortage of interesting and challenging projects to work on, and I am lucky to work with very talented people.

The staff at AUSTRAC are united and work tirelessly to protect Australia’s financial system from serious and organised crime. A recent example of this was a collaborative effort across multiple teams, as well as AUSTRAC’s reporting entities, to identify risks related to third party cash deposits. This work helped refine the controls relating to such deposits, resulting in a reduction of money laundering risks.

AUSTRAC has been recognised as an Employer of Choice, and a Top Ten Best Place to Work. What makes AUSTRAC a great place to work for you?

The flexible working arrangements at AUSTRAC are a big motivator for me. I love being able to work from home three days a week. I live rurally and appreciate watching my horses cruise by the windows while I am on videoconference calls!

Nick, Senior Analyst

Jacinta, Director of Intelligence Collaboration

Careers at AUSTRAC

Our highly specialised workforce is critical to achieving AUSTRAC’s vision of a future where our financial system is free from criminal abuse.

We offer a challenging and rewarding career with meaningful work and a great culture with many benefits including hybrid work.

Find out more about careers at AUSTRAC.

Join our Talent Register.

The content on this website is general and is not legal advice. Before you make a decision or take a particular action based on the content on this website, you should check its accuracy, completeness, currency and relevance for your purposes. You may wish to seek independent professional advice.

Last updated: 2 Nov 2023
Page ID: 818

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