A monumental win for community safety… | Alannah & Madeline Foundation Skip to main content

Today the Attorney General Mark Dreyfus and Queensland Police Minister Mark Ryan announced that the Federal Government has committed a landmark investment of $161.3 million in funding towards the implementation of the National Firearms Register.

This commitment from the Australian Government, on the eve of the 28th anniversary of the Port Arthur tragedy, reflects the collective efforts of advocates, policymakers, and the community, who alongside the Foundation have been dedicated to promoting public safety and preventing firearm-related harm.

After 28 years, this final step on the journey to full compliance with the National Firearms Agreement has been a long time coming, and the achievement resonates deeply with our advocates who have tirelessly championed to keep our gun laws responsible, safe and strong.

The creation and implementation of a National Firearms Register represents a significant advancement in Australia's approach to firearm regulation and the Foundation commends the Australian government for its commitment in supporting every state and territory in prioritising the safety and wellbeing of the community.

Founding Patron of the Alannah & Madeline Foundation, Mr Walter Mikac AM, who lost his family at Port Arthur, said the registry was the culmination of almost three decades of advocacy.

"It's bittersweet," he said. While he welcomed it, he argued it was a "huge frustration" it had taken so long.

"I would have liked that to have been instigated way back when John Howard introduced the National Firearms Agreement back in 1996," Walter said.

"We've had toing and froing from a number of the states over the years, mainly about watering [the proposals] down.

"We acted so quickly to make the initial reforms," he said.

"As time passes, people's memories, the events fade, the absolute despair and shock of the whole nation of that time disperses over the years and people become a little bit more complacent.

"Since Port Arthur, we've only had one mass shooting in Australia — it's incredible proof in the pudding that not having the firearms in our community works."

As the anniversary comes around once more, Walter said the pain of losing his family was still raw. "It's never easy, it's just as hard after 28 years as it was after one year," he said.

"In fact, [it] may be harder because you realise all those life events that you didn't get to share with your children — you know, the weddings, that car licence, the grandchildren, all those events.

"For people who think that time heals, well, all it does is just add another year to it.

"I think if they were looking down and could see what the Alannah and Madeline Foundation does in their names, and the gun laws that are now part of the legacy of the event of that day, they'd be really proud."

"It makes me really proud that it's part of our history that we've taken a really horrific event and made a solid monument and a legacy to all the people that suffered that day.

"There are 35 people who died, and the many who were injured and the many who suffered for the rest of their lives as a result."

What is the National Firearms Register?

The National Firearms Agreement was established in the wake of the Port Arthur tragedy in 1996 and was re-committed to by all jurisdictions in 2017 – despite this, no jurisdiction has been fully compliant.

A key aspect of the National Firearms Agreement is the establishment of the National Firearms Register, to provide a single source of information across all jurisdictions to assist law enforcement agencies to protect themselves and the community from gun violence.

While Australia has some of the strongest firearm laws in the world, the register will address significant gaps and inconsistencies in the way firearms are managed across all jurisdictions.

The register will be a federated model – in which state data connects with a central data hub allowing near real-time information sharing across the country.

What are the key features of the National Firearms Register?

Unified Data

The register consolidates information on Australia's 897,204 licensed gun owners and nearly four million registered civilian firearms.

Integration with Law Enforcement

It directly interfaces with the Australia Criminal Intelligence Commission’s National Criminal Intelligence System, offering law enforcement a powerful tool for instant searches. This includes information on firearm licenses, registered guns, prohibitions, criminal history, and extremist beliefs.

Consistency and Standardisation

Premiers and first ministers have committed to standardizing definitions for weapons and weapon parts nationwide. Gun dealers will use a new national verification system to ensure the validity of licenses before selling a firearm.

Data Cleansing

Each state and territory will "cleanse" its data, removing errors, ensuring consistency, and eliminating duplicate entries caused by variations in recording across jurisdictions.

Operational Timeline

Work on the register will commence in mid-2024, with an operational target set for mid-2028.

As we celebrate these hard-won achievements the Alannah & Madeline Foundation will remain vigilant in advocating to ensure Australia’s gun laws remain responsible, safe and strong. We will continue to build a future where children – and all people – can live safe from gun-related violence.

Learn more about gun safety and our community advocacy efforts.