Media release: Wednesday, 9 July 2008
Cabinet Secretary, Senator John Faulkner, today launched the National Archives' Making Australia Home project which aims to progressively make Australia's historic immigration records available online. The National Archives has already digitised 74,000 items, giving family researchers and others the opportunity to view and print their files at home.
During the 20th century, Australia became home to more than seven million new migrants from throughout the world.
Government records documenting aspects of their immigration are now part of the National Archives of Australia's collection, filling 22 kilometres of shelving in secure storage centres around the nation.
'While this represents only a small proportion of the total so far, we are working towards providing online access to most of our migration records so that families across Australia have easier access to them,' said Ross Gibbs, Director-General, National Archives of Australia.
'The records include information about migrants who travelled on various assisted passage schemes, postwar displaced person and those who registered at migrant accommodation centres when they arrived.'
Under the Archives Act 1983 government records become available to the public after 30 years. Various types of family history may be found in passenger records, case files, naturalisation and citizenship records, migrant selection documents and alien registration forms.
'The records include personal details such as the name of the person who migrated, their nationality, date and place of birth, occupation, education and qualifications and details of their spouse, children, parents or other family members. In some cases, people are also delighted to find photographs and letters,' said Mr Gibbs.
The launch accompanied special citizenship ceremonies in Canberra and Brisbane, to coincide with Constitution Day on 9 July.
Senator Faulkner said: 'The Archives' Making Australia Home project is an exciting project that celebrates the rich resource of immigration records about the millions of people who have made Australia their home over the past century.'
'Since Federation, the Australian Government has been responsible for developing laws and policies that decide who can and can't enter Australia, for travel or migration. Much of the story of migration to Australia, from a government perspective, is told in the records held by the National Archives.'
National/Canberra: Elizabeth Masters (02) 6212 3957; Yvonne Kennedy (02) 6212 3755 or 0450 346 998
Sydney: Michael Hoy (02) 9645 0105 or 0448 930 218
Melbourne: Ross Latham (03) 9881 6816 or 0417 086 816
Brisbane: David Swift : (07) 3249 4245 or 0403 851 234
Adelaide: Barbara Berce (08) 8409 8409 or 0488 207 798
Perth: Alan Ralph; (08) 9470 7510 or 0407 449 190
Darwin: Phyllis Williams (08) 8985 0322 or 0409 832 578
Hobart: Linda Jacobs (03) 6230 6113 or 0418 719 732