Contact principalKings Avenue, Parkes
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 https://www.naa.gov.au/about-us/our-organisation/our-history
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 research centres) 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 Research Centre is open Monday to Friday 9.30am-4.30pm.
Closed public holidays and between Christmas and New Year.
The Archives galleries and exhibitions are open 9.30am-4.30pm every day except Christmas Day and Good Friday.
Note: For up-to-date information on opening times, see https://www.naa.gov.au/visit-us/australian-capital-territory. As the National Archives’ collection in Canberra is stored in a separate building, researchers are encouraged to contact the Archives before they visit (see http://www.naa.gov.au/collection/askquestion/ ).
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. The open access period for Commonwealth records begins after 20 years. The open access period for Cabinet notebooks begins after 30 years.
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 https://www.naa.gov.au/help-your-research/using-collection/access-records-under-archives-act
To order and view records in a research centre, you must be registered as a researcher. It is advisable to notify the National Archives in advance of your visit to the National Office if you wish to view specific records as records are not held on site. See https://www.naa.gov.au/help-your-research/research-centres 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 https://www.naa.gov.au/about-us/our-services/our-service-standards
The Archives website provides information about the collection and service including a step-by step guide for researchers (at https://www.naa.gov.au/help-your-research/getting-started ). You can view records online, order and pay for digital copies of records, or submit an enquiry about records in the collection.