Service charter

The National Archives of Australia strives for excellent service as we make the collection available to the public. This service charter sets out the types and standards of service you can expect from the National Archives when using the collection.

The National Archives' collection is a valuable resource available to all. It facilitates an understanding of Australia's heritage and democracy, illuminating our past and guiding our future. The collection is available through our websites, reading rooms, exhibitions, public programs and publications. The National Archives has reading rooms in every state and territory.

Our services

Delivering online

As the primary means of accessing the collection, the National Archives is strongly committed to online service delivery. Through our websites you can view records or ask a question about the collection.

Providing access

The Archives makes records publicly available under the Archives Act 1983 once they reach the open access period. If a record in the open access period has not been released, you may apply for access. An application for access can be made online.

When you do this we will:

  • examine the record to decide if it can be made available under the Archives Act 1983
  • notify you of the decision as soon as we can
  • give you the reason/s if you cannot access a record or part of a record, and advise you of your rights of appeal.

Supplying digital copies of records

If a paper record (up to A3 in size) has been released for public access, for a fee you can request a digital copy. We will make the copy available for viewing and downloading via our website. You can order and pay for a digital copy, and check the progress of orders online.

Note: For copies of paper records larger than A3, or formats such as microform or audiovisual records, please contact us. Where making a copy would put a record at risk, we will provide access in another form if possible.

Providing access to original records

You can view original records that have been released for public access in the reading room where the record is located. Before attending a reading room, we encourage you to visit our website to check the opening hours, and to submit an advance request to view records.

In our reading rooms you can view original records free of charge, and you can use your own camera to make copies of records. Knowledgeable and courteous staff will explain our services and how to use reference tools and equipment.

Note: If the record requires preservation treatment, there may be a delay in making it available to you in a reading room. In addition, some records may be in a format that cannot be viewed in a reading room.

Helping you with your research

Archives staff are available to guide you to resources to answer specific research queries, and to provide general information on accessing and using the collection. You can contact our Reference staff online or in person at our reading rooms in all states and territories. If your query is complex or relates to a non-standard record format, we may take more time getting back to you.

Service standards

To ensure you receive excellent service, the National Archives has put in place the following service standards:

  • We will ensure our websites are available 99 per cent of the time.
  • We aim to make access decisions no later than 90 business days from the day after an access application is received (unless the period is otherwise extended) as required under the Archives Act 1983. However, if another agency or government needs to be consulted there may be significant delays. Please see access to records under the Archives Act for further information.
  • We aim to respond to requests to reconsider an access decision within 30 business days.
  • We aim to make digital copies of paper records (up to A3 in size) that have been released for public access available on our website within 30 business days of receiving your paid order.
  • We will retrieve records for viewing in our reading rooms on request. Unless there are preservation issues, most records will be available in the Adelaide reading room within five business days, and in the Melbourne and Canberra reading room within two business days. Retrieval of records is more frequent in our other reading rooms – staff will be able to advise you on delivery times when you submit your request. To ensure records are available when you require them, please submit a request to view records  five days in advance of your visit.
  • We aim to respond to most inquiries about the collection within 30 business days. If your inquiry is complex or relates to records other than paper files (such as audiovisual records), we will advise you of any delays and suggest search strategies or other resources.

Tell us how we are doing

We welcome your feedback and suggestions to help us improve our services. You can:

  • complete our survey
  • email us
  • talk to the member of staff with whom you have been dealing, or the state office Assistant Director
  • contact the Director, Reference Services.

How to contact us

There are various ways you can contact us. If you have an inquiry regarding the collection, you can ask us a question.

Under the Archives Act 1983 we are required to release as much information as possible. If you are concerned about information that has been released, please contact us at

Reporting and review of this service charter

We continuously monitor our performance. Each year we report on our achievement against our service standards in our Annual Report. The charter is reviewed at least every three years (more often, if required).

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019