National Archives of Australia overview

National Archives of Australia and National Archives of Australia Advisory Council Annual Report 2015-16

The National Archives of Australia is a non-corporate Commonwealth entity under the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013 (PGPA Act) and an executive agency under the Public Service Act 1999. Its roles and responsibilities are established under the Archives Act 1983. The accountable authority of the Archives is the Director-General, David Fricker.

The Archives falls under the Attorney-General’s portfolio, with Senator the Hon George Brandis QC as the Minister responsible for the Archives. The National Archives of Australia Advisory Council provides advice to the Minister and the Director-General. The Minister or the Director-General can also seek advice from the Council.

In Canberra, the National Office is located in Parkes, with repositories located in Mitchell and Greenway. There are offices in all state and territory capital cities. The Adelaide, Darwin, Hobart and North Melbourne offices are co-located with state government archival or library services.

Role and functions

Under the Archives Act, the functions of the Archives are broadly grouped into the following areas:

  • leading Australian Government entities in creating and maintaining authentic, reliable and useable Commonwealth records by providing guidance and setting standards for the management of information and records
  • authorising retention and disposal of Commonwealth records, including identification of records of national archival value
  • transferring records of national archival value from entities and securing, describing and preserving them
  • making publicly available the archival resources of the Commonwealth.

Organisational structure

The Director-General and four Assistant Directors-General form the Executive Board of the Archives. The Archives employs a total of 431 people Australia-wide.

National Archives of Australia, Organisational chart as at 30 June 2016

Figure 1: Organisational chart, 30 June 2016

Outcome and program structure

The 2015–16 Portfolio Budget Statements set out the Archives’ outcome and program structure, which is as follows:

To promote the creation, management and preservation of authentic, reliable and useable Commonwealth records and to facilitate Australians’ access to the archival resources of the Commonwealth
National Archives of Australia

The Archives aims to achieve its outcome through:

  • Organisational excellence – the Archives has effective governance, financial and human resource management frameworks in place to ensure financial sustainability and to consistently display organisational excellence.
  • Government information and records management – the Archives assists entities to build their digital information and records management capability to better equip them to meet their obligations under the Archives Act in appropriate, contemporary and cost-effective ways.
  • Storage and preservation – the Archives protects records of national archival value by transferring them from entities to appropriate custody for secure storage and preservation to support continued use by the government and the public. The Archives also preserves records at risk of significant deterioration, prioritising those most likely to be affected within the next four years.
  • Access and participation – the Archives provides access to, promotes and interprets the collection. It provides access through its websites and National Digitisation Service. The collection can also be accessed through the National Reference Service and reading rooms. In addition, the Archives engages with people to assist them to learn about their heritage and democracy.

Strategic priorities

The Corporate Plan 2015–16 to 2018–19 sets out the purposes and vision for the Archives. It defines the strategic priorities that will guide the Archives’ work over the next four years. It responds to legislation and is informed by sector and nationwide consultation.

The Archives' strategic priorities are:

  • develop and sustain a workforce that is professional, capable, flexible, innovative, engaged and collaborative
  • ensure contemporary storage capability to secure and preserve the archival resources of the Commonwealth
  • provide leadership and continued support for digital information and records management capability across the Australian Government
  • continue to enhance business capability to deliver innovative, responsive and appropriate services for access that meets the needs of government, the Australian people and other key stakeholders.