Primary contactOld Parliament House, 18 King George Terrace, Parkes (temporarily in 2018) Postal address: PO Box 4924, Kingston ACT 2604
Canberra, Australian Capital Territory 2600
The National Archives of Australia traces its beginnings to the appointment of Ian Maclean as Archives Officer by the Commonwealth National Library in Canberra in 1944. The Library's Archives Division expanded, opening repositories in Canberra, Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Adelaide and Perth in the late 1940s and 1950s. When the National Library Act came into force in 1961, the Archives Division was separated and became the Commonwealth Archives Office responsible to the Prime Minister's Department.
Branch offices were opened in Darwin and Hobart in the early 1970s. In 1974 the office was renamed the Australian Archives and took a new direction. In 1975 the upgraded position of Director-General was created with a brief to develop Archives legislation, develop the Archives building program and promote the use of archives. The Archives Act 1983 (Cth) outlining the functions and responsibilities of the Archives came into force in 1984. The name of the organisation was changed to the National Archives of Australia in 1998.
For further information see http://www.naa.gov.au/about-us/organisation/history/index.aspx
The National Archives of Australia is a Commonwealth Government agency responsible for Commonwealth Government records. It has its national office in Canberra and offices (with reading rooms) in all State and Territory capital cities:
The Archives (then named Australian Archives) had a North Queensland Office in Townsville from 1974 to 1996. All records were transferred to the National Archives of Australia, Brisbane Office.
Under the Archives Act 1983 (Cth), the National Archives has two main roles:
It encourages good records management by government agencies to support:
The National Archives of Australia holds records covering all facets of Commonwealth Government activity since Federation in 1901, as well as some earlier records for activities that were transferred from the colonies to the Commonwealth Government.
In Canberra the National Archives holds the records of the Federal Cabinet and the records of major Commonwealth departments like the Prime Minister's Department, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Department of Defence and the Department of Immigration. In addition, the National office of the National Archives holds the personal dossiers of all those who served in the Australian Army during World War I and World War II.
Quantity: At 30 June 2016 the Archives stored nationally 353.6 shelf kilometres of paper and other analogue records. A total of 721.1 terabytes of digital records were also held in repositories located in Canberra and Sydney.
The Reading Room is open Monday to Friday 9am-5pm.
Closed public holidays and between Christmas and New Year.
The Archives galleries in Canberra display treasures from the collection and a program of temporary exhibitions. The galleries are open every day except Christmas Day and Good Friday.
Note: During 2018, the National Archives’ reading room and exhibition area is temporarily located at Old Parliament House while building work is undertaken on the Archives’ building, East Block in Queen Victoria Terrace, Parkes. For up-to-date information on opening times, see http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/fs01.aspx
Access to archival records is governed by the Archives Act 1983 (Cth). Under the Act you have a right of access to Commonwealth government records that are in the open access period. Following amendments to the Act approved by Parliament in May 2010, the open access period for Commonwealth records as defined by the Act will begin after 20 years instead of the previous 30 years. The open access period for Cabinet notebooks will begin after 30 years, instead of 50 years.
The changes to the open access periods for Commonwealth records and Cabinet notebooks took effect from 1 January 2011 and will be phased in over a 10-year period. For further details, see http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/fs10.aspx
Under the Archives Act, all records must be examined for sensitivities before they can be released to the public. You will need to apply for access if the item you wish to view has not yet been examined. While most examination is completed within a month, it may take up to 90 days and sometimes longer to examine some files. For information on cases where you need to apply for access and the procedures involved, see http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/fs11.aspx
To order and view records in a reading room, you must be registered as a researcher. It is advisable to notify the National Archives in advance of your visit if you wish to view specific records as records are not held on site. See http://www.naa.gov.au/visit-us/reading-rooms/index.aspx for information on reading room rules and procedures.
The role of the National Reference Service is to assist you to access records in the collection, or direct you to the best source to meet your information needs.
Staff will spend up to one hour identifying relevant records on your behalf. Depending on the nature and complexity of your enquiry, the information provided in the response may include further avenues of research for you to pursue. Service guidelines are set out at http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/fact-sheets/fs16.aspx
The Archives website provides information about our collection and service including a step-by step guide for researchers (at http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/using/step-by-step/index.aspx ). You can view records online, order and pay for digital copies of records, or submit an enquiry about records in the collection.