National Archives of Australia
National Archives of Australia Advisory Council
Annual Report 2017–18

Management and accountability

The Archives' management and accountability practices are supported by a robust governance framework that enables the successful delivery of programs and activities. The Archives is accountable to the government and the Australian people in a number of ways. As a public service agency, the Archives upholds accountability and transparency in decision-making, rigour in project management and policy decisions, and accuracy in performance reporting.

Corporate governance

During 2017–18 the Archives strengthened its key governance structures and processes to better manage its compliance obligations within a complex and dynamic legal and policy environment. The Corporate Services branch focused on reforming corporate processes to provide efficient and meaningful engagement in compliance activities by business areas. Compliance is everyone’s responsibility. Simple and fit-for-purpose governance structures enable greater efficiency and minimal disruption to business areas as they deliver the Archives' strategic priorities. These measures also assure the Director-General, the government and the community that the Archives is compliant with all relevant requirements for a Commonwealth entity.

Corporate planning and reporting

The Archives' governance arrangements and practices around performance ensure all branches and sections provide meaningful contributions to the development of performance information and the internal mechanisms used to collect and maintain data, and monitor, document and analyse results against planned performance.

The core elements of the Archives' performance framework set out the Archives' strategies for achieving its purposes and how success will be measured and reported. The Corporate Plan is the Archives' primary planning document. It describes the environment in which the Archives operates, its planned performance measures, risk profile and capabilities.

The Archives features in the Attorney-General's Department's Portfolio Budget Statement (PBS). The PBS describes, at a strategic level, what is intended to be achieved with the appropriation received by the Archives. The performance criteria included in the PBS are mapped to the purposes in the Corporate Plan. To ensure a clear link between the PBS and Corporate Plan, they are drafted in concert at the same stage of the performance cycle.

The Annual Performance Statement, contained in the Annual Report, outlines the Archives' achievement of its planned performance and reporting intentions identified in the Corporate Plan and PBS at the beginning of the reporting period. Using a combination of qualitative and quantitative measures, the Annual Performance Statement provides a performance story of the extent to which the Archives succeeded in achieving its purposes.

Risk management

The Archives recognises managing risk is necessary to improving performance and achieving strategic priorities. Staff are encouraged to actively engage with risk in a positive and transparent way to facilitate innovation, improve business processes and continue to increase productivity across the Archives. The Archives accepts a moderate to high level of risk for projects and activities which present opportunities for better outcomes for our stakeholders. The Archives is aware that some risk is unavoidable, however it can also create opportunities for delivering positive results, particularly in our rapidly changing digital environment.

In an environment of tightening resources, the Archives is focused on actively managing higher-risk activities and embedding risk management into everyday business processes. During 2017–18, the Archives' risk-management framework was significantly revised to provide simpler and more effective tools and processes to manage and engage with risk in a meaningful way. In 2017–18 the Archives continued to strengthen staff awareness of, and participation in, risk management through:

  • reporting to senior management and the Audit and Risk Committee on high-risk activities and mitigation strategies
  • reviewing the Archives' risk registers
  • embedding risk management into the Archives' project management methodology and processes
  • facilitating risk-management workshops for project teams and business areas
  • providing and presenting information on risk management through the Archives' induction program
  • completing the annual Comcover benchmarking program to assess the Archives' risk-management practices, maturity and target areas for growth
  • delivering timely advice and support on risk management and Comcover insurance matters across the Archives
  • actively managing risks to business operations through the development of business disruption responses including business continuity, incident management and emergency management.

Internal audit

The Archives' audit program provides a value-added service to management through improved compliance, risk management and business improvement. The objective of the program is to assist the organisation to meet its key roles and responsibilities by:

  • identifying potential problems and risk exposures
  • determining and reporting the extent to which the Archives complies with all mandatory requirements and instructions
  • determining and reporting the adequacy, reliability and effectiveness of managerial controls operating within the Archives
  • suggesting improvements to business processes and controls
  • reporting to managers about whether the resources under their control are being effectively and efficiently managed to achieve Archives' objectives
  • monitoring fraud control and prevention mechanisms.

Monitoring of the audit program is set out in the Audit and Risk Committee Charter.

The Archives adopts an internal audit plan which is drafted by contracted professional auditors in consultation with the Archives executive. Each financial year the audit program aims to examine a different section of the Archives' business per quarter. The internal audit plan is presented to the Audit and Risk Committee and then the Executive Board for approval.

Key drivers for business activities within the Archives which are identified and included in the annual internal audit plan include:

  • the Archives' strategic priorities and outcomes
  • effective governance and control
  • risk management, including the Archives' strategic risks and emerging issues
  • areas for consideration as described in better-practice guides from the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO).

In 2017–18 internal audits were conducted on:

  • ICT security
  • management of complaints handling
  • the fraud control framework.

Fraud measures

Certificate of fraud measures

I certify that the Archives complies with section 10 of PGPA Rule 2014 by ensuring:

  • a fraud risk assessment and fraud control plan have been prepared
  • appropriate fraud prevention, detection, investigation, reporting and data collection procedures and processes are in place
  • all reasonable measures are taken to appropriately deal with fraud and to investigate and recover the proceeds of fraud.

Signature of David Fricker, Director-General of the National Archives of Australia

David Fricker
National Archives of Australia

12 September 2018

The Archives is committed to managing the risk of fraud and corruption to protect its:

  • staff, working environment, quality of service and culture
  • record holdings, intellectual property, information and data
  • other publicly funded assets and resources
  • contractual and statutory obligations
  • image and reputation.

During 2017–18, the Archives proactively engaged internal auditors to review the currency and strength of its fraud control framework. The Archives recognised the changes to its fraud-related risks resulting from the significant changes to the Archives' internal structure, revenue collection and digital transition, and from the increase in procurement and IT-related recruitment. The revised fraud risk register, policy and plan, developed in accordance with the Archives' current risk-management framework, will strengthen the Archives' fraud-prevention strategy. Fraud detection, investigation and reporting strategies continue to effectively manage the low number of reported incidents of fraud at the Archives.

In 2017–18 there were eight instances of fraud reported via the Archives' fraud-reporting telephone and email hotlines, or through written correspondence to the Fraud Control Officer. None of these allegations of fraud related to the business of the National Archives of Australia or its staff. Instead, they related to a commercial business

Information governance

During 2017–18 the Archives continued updating and improving its information governance strategies, policies and processes. The position of the Chief Information Governance Officer (CIGO) was created in July 2017, a new role that the Archives' Digital Continuity 2020 Policy required all agencies to have in place as one of the policy's targets. The CIGO role is responsible for continuous improvement of agency-wide information governance processes and fostering a culture of accountable and business-focused management of the Archives' information assets.

In 2017–18 the Archives successfully achieved the Digital Continuity 2020 Policy requirements for 2017, including transforming most paper-based processes to digital; establishing digital authorisations and workflows for decision making; and ensuring that all business systems which contain high-value and long-term information assets meet minimum metadata standards.

Executive Board

The Director-General and assistant directors-general form the Executive Board, which has oversight of the Archives' performance, accountability, and strategic and policy framework. Each assistant director-general is responsible for a branch of the Archives. The members of the Executive Board and their responsibilities at 30 June 2018 were:

  • David Fricker, Director-General – responsible for the overall management of the Archives and the proper governance of its operations, programs and strategic directions
  • Yaso Arumugam, Chief Information Officer, Information and Technology – primarily responsible for the Archives' transformation to a contemporary digital archive; supports the Archives in reaching its strategic goals through services, technology, infrastructure, software and governance of its information assets
  • Teressa Ward, Assistant Director-General (until 15 May 2018), and Linda Macfarlane, A/g Assistant Director-General, Collection Management – primarily responsible for arranging the transfer of nationally significant records from Commonwealth entities into the Archives; controlling, storing, and preserving the Archives' collection; servicing internal and external requests to access the collection; providing digitisation services to the public and agencies; researching and implementing best-practice digital archiving; and setting the standards for Australian Government entities' digital information management and assisting agencies by developing tools and guidance to support Digital Continuity 2020 Policy implementation
  • Louise Doyle, Assistant Director-General, Access and Public Engagement – primarily responsible for enabling and delivering access to the collection online and through reading rooms, reference services, education and public programs, exhibitions, events, publishing, marketing and media activities, and corporate events. Other activities include access examination, communications, media liaison and partnership development
  • Helen Walker, A/g Assistant Director-General, Corporate Services – primarily responsible for oversight of the efficient, effective and ethical management of the Archives' resources in accordance with the Commonwealth's financial, procurement, employment, security and property legislative and policy frameworks. Also supports the Archives to obtain the workforce, facilities and capability it requires to deliver its outcomes, strategic priorities and to remain sustainable.


The Archives' key governance activities are supported by six committees that contribute to effective and accountable governance across the Archives:

  • Audit and Risk Committee
  • Finance Committee (part of Executive Board)
  • Information Governance Committee (part of Executive Board)
  • Human Resources Management Committee
  • Project Management Committee
  • Workplace Relations Committee.

Audit and Risk Committee

The Archives' Audit and Risk Committee includes internal and external members and observers. The committee aims to:

  • enhance the Archives' control framework
  • improve the objectivity and reliability of externally published financial information
  • assist the Archives to comply with all legislation and other obligations
  • monitor the risk-management framework and associated procedures for effective identification and management of the Archives' strategic and financial risks (including fraud)
  • provide assurance to the Director-General that the Archives' responsibilities under the PGPA Act are met, risks are being identified and mitigating action is taken.

At 30 June 2018, committee membership comprised the Assistant Director-General, Collection Management and two external members – Mr Geoff Knuckey (Chair) and Dr Margo Wade (Deputy Chair).

The committee meets four times a year and a fifth time to discuss the annual financial statements.

Finance Committee

The Archives' Finance Committee oversees the financial performance of the Archives, including financial sustainability over the forward estimates, the capital budget, new policy proposals, new initiatives/grants/sponsorship (both internal and external) and the management of the property portfolio.

It reports to the Executive Board. The committee membership comprises the Director-General
and four assistant directors-general and nominally meets on a monthly basis.

The committee met 11 times during 2017–18.

Information Governance Committee

The Executive Board has formal responsibility for oversight of information governance in the Archives, and performs the role of the Information Governance Committee. The committee provides a mechanism for developing and maintaining a consistent and systematic approach to managing information at the Archives to ensure that our policy, corporate and information governance framework adequately guides decision-making and supports the values and culture of the Archives.

In 2017–18 the committee met quarterly and considered reports submitted by the Chief Information Governance Officer on progress towards achieving the targets of the Digital Continuity 2020 Policy, introduction of digital authorisations and workflows, conversion of paper-based business processes to digital, and updates to information governance frameworks, policies and systems.

Human Resources Management Committee

The Human Resources Management Committee is the primary people-governance committee in the Archives. The committee's terms of reference are to oversee the organisational delivery of the strategic people management activities of the Archives and to advise the Director-General.

The committee met monthly throughout the year to consider submissions including, but not limited to, the staffing establishment, professional development, the progress of Enterprise Agreement negotiations, workforce planning, diversity and a range of monthly and quarterly staffing reports. The committee oversees the implementation of outcomes from changes and Australian Public Service people management initiatives.

As at 30 June 2018 committee membership comprised the Director-General (Chair), Assistant Director-General, Corporate Services, Assistant Director-General, Access and Public Engagement and the Director, People Management and Development. The Chief Financial Officer is also in attendance acting in an advisory capacity.

Project Management Committee

The Project Management Committee oversees, and reports to the Executive Board on, the management of significant or complex projects being undertaken by the Archives.

Projects are referred to the Project Management Committee by the Executive Board based on the assessment of project complexity. Each project put forward to the Executive Board will have completed a projected complexity rating. Typically projects referred to the committee may have one or more of the following attributes:

  • a high interdependency across branches, or with external agencies or companies
  • a significant financial and reputational risk
  • a high level of complexity.

As at 30 June 2018 the committee membership comprised the Chief Information Officer, Regional Manager Central, and an external SES representative, Assistant Secretary, Department of Health. An advisor from the Archives Corporate Governance section also attended. During 2017–18 the committee met monthly.

Workplace Relations Committee

The Workplace Relations Committee (WRC) is the Archives' peak consultative body consisting of management, union and elected employee representatives. The WRC supports, but does not replace, existing management and union decision-making processes. The WRC also functions as the National Workplace Health and Safety Committee for the Archives as outlined in the Archives Work Health and Safety Management Arrangements for the purposes of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011. The WRC is required to meet a minimum of four times per year.

Consultation between employees and management occurs at the organisational level through the WRC. This committee considers national workplace matters of significance to employees and the views of employees on workplace matters that affect them, and monitors the operation of the Enterprise Agreement.

Standing items on the WRC agenda are:

  • workplace health and safety reporting
  • workplace diversity and harassment reporting
  • individual flexibility agreements reporting
  • property management – office relocations/restructures
  • shared and common services
  • review and endorsement of employment-related policies
  • items raised by committee members and/or employees.

The end of 2017 saw the end of a two-year term for the WRC which triggered a committee nomination process. A new committee was established comprising three employee-elected representatives (two based in Canberra and one in a state office, with one state office representative still to be appointed), two management-appointed representatives and a representative from the Community and Public Sector Union.

The committee met four times during 2017–18.

Ethical standards

In the 2017 APS Employee Census, 88 per cent of employees indicated that colleagues in their immediate workgroup acted in accordance with the APS Values in their everyday work and 90 per cent indicated that their supervisors did as well. This data reflects the Archives' commitment to creating and promoting a workplace with high ethical standards. During 2017–18, the Archives made the following ethical-based training mandatory for all employees: Respectful Workplaces and Protective Security. The Archives also has a comprehensive risk-management and fraud-control plan that mitigates potential unethical behaviour.

There were five Public Interest Disclosures that were internally allocated in 2017–18 and seven privacy breaches were reported. Regular training and information on obligations under the Public Service Act are provided to staff.

During 2017–18 one confirmed breach of the Australian Public Service Code of Conduct was determined. There were no requests to review a human resource decision and no appeal to external authorities was made.

Senior Executive Service remuneration

The Archives determines SES remuneration with regard to the annual APS Remuneration Survey. Base salaries are negotiated between the Director-General and individual SES employees under subsection 24(1) determinations. Each SES employee develops an individual work plan with the Director-General and is assessed against a five-scale rating system. No bonuses are payable to SES employees.

A range of non-salary benefits is available to SES employees, subject to the nature of work undertaken and approval arrangements. Benefits may include provision of laptop computers, tablets, mobile devices, airline lounge membership and support for professional development.

External scrutiny

The Archives is subject to scrutiny by the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, the Federal Court of Australia, the Auditor-General, the Commonwealth Ombudsman, the Privacy Commissioner, the Australian Information Commissioner and parliamentary committees.

Administrative Appeals Tribunal

The Archives makes decisions on access to Commonwealth records under the Archives Act. People who are dissatisfied with a decision of the Archives can, in certain circumstances, seek a review from the Administrative Appeals Tribunal (AAT). The process involves an applicant lodging an application for review with the AAT in connection with applications made under the Archives Act for access to Commonwealth records.

In 2017–18, the AAT received four appeals from members of the public who were dissatisfied with the decision of the Archives. One application on a deemed refusal was withdrawn once the applicant was granted access. Twenty-four appeals were carried over from the previous financial year. As at 30 June 2018, 27 appeals remained before the AAT.

Federal Court of Australia

There was one case on matters relating to the Archives before the Federal Court of Australia in 2017–18: Jennifer Hocking v Director-General, National Archives of Australia. The case is ongoing.

Australian National Audit Office

In 2017–18, the Archives was the subject of the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) Performance Audit on Cyber Resilience along with the Department of the Treasury and Geoscience Australia. The audit examined the Archives' arrangements for managing cyber risks, reporting against cybersecurity deliverables, and the Archives' culture of cyber resilience. The ANAO concluded that the Archives, although internally resilient, was not fully compliant with the cybersecurity strategies as issued by the Australian Signals Directorate. The Archives has committed to establishing a plan and timeframe to achieve ongoing compliance. The audit report was tabled in parliament on 28 June 2018 and is published on the ANAO website.

Commonwealth Ombudsman

During 2017–18 the Commonwealth Ombudsman investigated one complaint about the Archives' services. At the end of the financial year, the complaint was still under consideration.

Privacy Commissioner

The Privacy Commissioner made no reports under section 30 of the Privacy Act 1988 concerning actions taken by, or practices of, the Archives during 2017–18.

Parliamentary committees

The Archives made three submissions to parliamentary committees in 2017–18. These were to: the Joint Standing Committee on the National Capital and External Territories Inquiry into Canberra's National Institutions; the Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit on the matters raised in the ANAO Report No. 19 (2017–18) Australian Government Procurement Contract Reporting; and the Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade References Committee Inquiry into the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Freedom of information

In 2017–18 the Archives received five freedom of information (FOI) requests, with four decisions finalised within required timeframes.

Information Publication Scheme

Entities subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS). This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a section 8 statement in an annual report. Each entity must display on its website a plan showing what information it publishes in accordance with the IPS requirements.

The Archives complies with the requirement in Part II of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS). A plan outlining what information is published in accordance with the IPS requirements is on the Archives website

Office of the Australian Information Commissioner

The Archives was not the subject of any investigations by the Australian Information Commissioner during 2017–18.

Legal Services and expenditure

The Legal Services Directions 2017, issued by the Attorney-General under the Judiciary Act 1903, requires Australian Government agencies to ensure that legal services expenditure is appropriately recorded and monitored. The Archives’ total expenditure on external legal services for 2017–18 was $907,982.43 (GST exclusive).

Human resource management

Human resource management continues to play a key role in enabling the Archives to deliver its strategic and business objectives. This is governed largely through the oversight of the Human Resource Management Committee and advice from the Workplace Relations Committee.

The 2017–18 year represented Year 1 of the Strategic Workforce Plan 2016–20 roadmap and significant progress has been made in rebalancing and reshaping the capacity and capability of the workforce. The major work undertaken was an assessment of the agency's culture (current and future), the development of a culture principles statement (The Archives Way), and the development of a Culture Action Plan. These aim to slowly move the organisation toward achieving more innovative ways of working, improving leadership and management at all levels, and directing effort towards being the information management leader in the APS.

The 2017–18 year also saw a digital literacy project begin. Phase 1 delivered a framework which will enable assessment of the digital skills, competency and proficiencies required across a range of roles in the Archives. Phase 2 of the project will commence in 2018–19.

The Archives 2017 APS Employee Census results indicate a number of areas of workforce strength including high employment engagement, satisfaction with work–life balance and general belief that employees are qualified, experienced and committed to undertake their work.

Workforce planning, staff turnover and retention

The Archives continues to trend down in core workforce size in response to financial constraints and a continual review of the efficiency and effectiveness of business processes. Overall staffing levels contracted during 2017–18, however, workforce productivity and output benefit from the continued employment of non-ongoing and casual staff to provide flexibility and agility during times of peak workload or the significant absence of core staff.

A disciplined approach to resource management has meant that, to date, reductions in staffing have been met largely through retirements and other elements of natural attrition.

The key Archives' workforce demographic data as of 30 June 2018 is provided at tables 5–9. In summary, the Archives workforce:

  • is predominantly female (59.2 per cent)
  • uses flexibility to achieve its objectives with both part-time (18.8 per cent) and temporary (18.6 per cent) workers
  • is largely Canberra-based (68.6 per cent) with a geographic footprint in every capital city (refer Table 7)
  • has a classification profile that sits within the parameters of the optimal APS management structures.

The separation rate for ongoing employees in 2017–18 for the Archives was 6.8 per cent. This represents approximately half the 2016–17 rate of 12.4 per cent. This includes all separations, such as terminations, redundancies, resignations, retirements and movements to other Australian Government entities. Most separations in 2017–18 were the result of resignation, retirement or permanent transfer to another Australian Government entity. The rate was higher in 2016–17, due mostly to the small program of voluntary redundancies completed during that year.

The 2017–18 Portfolio Budget Statements provided an estimated Average Staffing Level (ASL) of 375 at the beginning of the financial year. Owing to the timing of recruitment processes, the actual ASL for the Archives in 2017–18 was 338.5.

Table 5: Classification of ongoing staff by gender and attendance type, 30 June 2018

Table 6: Classification of non-ongoing staff by gender and attendance type, 30 June 2018

Table 7: Staff distribution by office and employment status, 30 June 2018

Table 8: Classification of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff by employment status

Diversity grouping Ongoing Non-ongoing Total
2016–17 2013–17 2017–18 2016–17 2017–18 2016–17 2017–18
Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander 3 2 1 1 4 3
Total 3 2 1 1 4 3

Instruments of employment

During 2017–18 the National Archives of Australia Enterprise Agreement 2017–20 was the main employment instrument. A total of 398 employees were covered by the agreement and, of these, four Executive Level employees and one APS level employee had individual flexibility arrangements, covering remuneration, in place under clauses 10–15 of the new agreement. Five Senior Executive Service (SES) employees were covered by determinations under subsection 24(1) of the Public Service Act 1999, including one on a long-term absence. No employees in the Archives have the provision for performance pay.

Table 9: Number of staff by classification and salary range, 30 June 2018

Learning and development

During 2017–18, the Archives provided a comprehensive suite of professional development programs aimed at building both individual and organisational capability. The corporate professional development calendar provided all staff with the opportunity to participate in 45 individual courses/seminars, with 624 training attendances recorded. Corporate training requirements and requests were determined through Individual Work Plan discussions, or identified within the Culture Action Plan, expertise development, or capability frameworks.

At the Executive Level, a subset of programs was included to focus on building leadership, management, and transitional change capabilities. These programs were identified to provide credit toward postgraduate qualifications. A total of six programs were offered in 2017–18, with nine attendances.

In 2017–18, professional development moved further into the digital age with a stronger focus on e-learning packages. A subscription to a more extensive training platform, Lynda, provided flexible development opportunities to the Archives' staff alongside the existing platform. The Archives' induction and five annual refresher courses are completed by all staff on the e-learning platform, and 220 staff members are using Lynda either in lieu of, or complementing, face-to-face training.

The Internal Development Education Awareness Seminars – IDEAS – are provided to support professional development by giving external speakers an opportunity to present on topical issues within, or relevant to, the Archives. A total of five presentations were delivered, ranging from digital transformation to delivering better services. The forums create a platform for discussion with industry leaders and offer staff an insight into new developments that are of mutual professional interest.

Professional development supported a total of 15 employees in 2017–18 through financial and/or study leave as part of the Studies Assistance Program. Studies assistance has built organisational capabilities, as well as providing an incentive for staff to further their outside education.

Health and wellbeing

The 2017–18 health and wellbeing calendar included several in-house and external programs to engage staff in healthier work practices. The calendar incorporated charity drives and awareness campaigns, physical health activities, mental health seminars and training programs, flu vaccinations, and inspirational speakers. Each state office received a subsidy in 2017–18 to spend on healthier work practices. The Archives was issued with an ACT Government Silver Status award in recognition of its health and wellbeing program.


External programs contributing to diversity

The Archives continues to develop and deliver programs that contribute to diversity including:

  • a national touring exhibition program with exhibitions such as Facing Two Fronts: the fight for respect; From the Outback to Outer Space: Woomera 1955–1980; Indigenous Australians at War from the Boer War to the Present; Without Consent; A Place to Call Home?Migrant hostel memories and A Ticket to Paradise?
  • public programs such as the 1972 Larrakia petition program delivered during Reconciliation Week.


In April 2018, the Archives held an information session for students undertaking Certificate IV in Stolen Generation Family Research and Case Management. The Archives presented at a National Link-Up Leadership meeting coordinated by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) and held at University House ANU. The presentation included information about the Archives, Indigenous records and service records, and how to search using NameSearch.

Indigenous activities

In June 2018 the Archives donated a facsimile of the Larrakia petition to the Larrakia Nation Aboriginal Corporation. The Larrakia petition was signed in 1972 by Aboriginal people from all states and territories of mainland Australia calling for land rights and political representation. Descendants of Dolly Garinyi Batcho, who signed the petition, were present at the ceremony.

The Archives provided support to a veterans' organisation on Thursday Island to locate records relating to the Torres Strait Light Infantry Battalion. It was the only Indigenous Battalion ever formed in Australia's military history. The Queensland Office holds records that have been used to identify people and families who took part in military service.

As usual, the Aboriginal Advisory Group met twice during the year, once in Darwin and once in Alice Springs. The group advises and assists the Archives in implementing, managing and reviewing the Memorandum of Understanding for access to open-period Commonwealth records by Northern Territory Aboriginal people.

Taking advantage of the relocation to Old Parliament House (OPH), Public Programs staff ran a 2018 Reconciliation Week program for other OPH tenants on the 1972 Larrakia petition facsimile and correspondence relating to the Australian Aborigines' League petition of 1937. Staff from the Australian Indigenous Doctors' Association, Reconciliation Australia and AIATSIS were invited to participate in a guided viewing of the documents and discussion regarding their significance and role in the land rights movement. A similar program was offered to Archives staff at OPH and the National Archives Preservation Facility.


In March 2018, a group of seven women participating in the Yinaar Healing camp – organised by the Wellington Aboriginal Corporation Health Service – visited the Canberra reading room to view World War I service records and learn about the services the Archives provides. The group ranged in age from their early 20s through to their 90s, with one member viewing her father's World War I service record.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy/Reconciliation Action Plan

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy represents the Archives' commitment to:

  • welcoming, engaging and collaborating with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people
  • providing culturally appropriate services and programs
  • demonstrating best practice in the management of collection material about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.

The Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy is relevant to many of the functions, policies and activities of the Archives.

The Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) Working Group has actively engaged in the promotion and implementation of RAP targets aimed at building greater understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples, culture and histories. Connections made through the Archives' collection bring a unique offering in building our nation's reconciliation story. The Working Group consists of dedicated representatives from across different work areas and geographical locations within Australia and Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander staff and stakeholders. During 2017–18, the RAP Working Group supported specific activities during NAIDOC Week and National Reconciliation Week. NAIDOC Week events included a daily bulletin-style email sent to all staff with a range of information and resources relating to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander languages, and tours of the galleries in the National Office.

Diversity program and statistics

Diversity of thought, background, experience and contribution is valued at the Archives. Our goal is to reflect the diverse community we serve, and to embrace our employees' diverse skills, perspectives and experiences to improve service delivery to the community. In 2017–18, we launched the Archives Workplace Diversity Program 2017–20.

The objectives are to:

  • raise awareness of workplace diversity in the Archives
  • attract, recruit and retain employees from diverse backgrounds
  • provide a workplace that is free from discrimination, promotes health and wellbeing at work, and recognises and values diversity
  • embed workplace diversity principles into management and work team practices
  • ensure the Archives' collection, which is reflective of Australia's cultural diversity, is accessible to all
  • comply with government and legislative requirements.

The program sets an Indigenous employment target of 3 per cent. At 30 June 2018, less than 1 per cent of Archives employees identified as Indigenous (see Table 10). All employees are continuing to build cultural capability through mandatory training andextended online learning through the Core Indigenous Awareness training developed by AIATSIS as well as continuing to look for innovative ways to increase the overall Indigenous workforce participation in the Archives.

As at 30 June 2018, female employees represented 59.2 per cent of the Archives workforce. Unlike other agencies where a female majority may be confined to a particular function or classification, higher female representation remains consistent across all classifications at the Archives. Further, as seniority increases so does representation of females. For example, all assistant directors-general were female as at 30 June 2018.

The 2017 APS Employee Census responses indicate that approximately 90 per cent of all employees have a favourable view of the Archives embracing inclusive work practices to support diversity in the workplace. Training programs such as Managing Mental Health Risks at Work, Diversity and Discrimination, and Building Disability Confidence are available to employees online.

The Archives' progress in improving the representation of people living with a disability has risen slightly in terms of headcount over the last two years as highlighted in Table 10 below. Substantial progress continues to be stifled through limited entry pathways, non–self disclosure and difficulties in accommodating long-term reasonable adjustments.

The Workplace Diversity Program 2017–20 sets internal strategies and targets, some of which will take time to mature and realise benefits. This is particularly so in the area of recruitment, attraction and on-boarding. However, some success has been realised and it is hoped that better results will occur in 2018–19.

All Archives' employment policies, procedures and practices comply with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1992.

Table 10: Diversity groupings 2016–18

Changes to disability reporting in annual reports

Since 1994, non-corporate Commonwealth entities have reported on their performance as policy adviser, purchaser, employer, regulator and provider under the Commonwealth Disability Strategy. In 2007–08, reporting on the employer role was transferred to the Australian Public Service Commission’s State of the Service reports and the APS Statistical Bulletin. These reports are available at From 2010–11, entities have no longer been required to report on these functions.

The Commonwealth Disability Strategy has been overtaken by the National Disability Strategy 2010–20, which sets out a 10-year national policy framework to improve the lives of people with disability, promote participation and create a more inclusive society. A high-level, two-yearly report will track progress against each of the six outcome areas of the strategy and present a picture of how people with disability are faring. The first of these progress reports was published in 2014, and can be found at

Asset management

The Archives manages diverse and complex assets including:

  • the national archival collection
  • intangible assets such as digital copies of collection items
  • fit-out of office, storage, preservation and exhibition spaces
  • building plant supporting critical infrastructure such as low-temperature storage vaults
  • preservation equipment
  • high-quality digital imaging equipment and cameras
  • exhibition infrastructure
  • information technology infrastructure supporting corporate and archival systems.

The Archives' asset acquisitions and replacements are managed through the five-year Capital Asset Plan. The Executive Board provides governance in relation to capital expenditure based on this plan.

Asset management policy

The Archives applies best-practice asset management principles to its facilities and associated assets. It continues to progressively review and refine its asset management policies and practices.

Heritage assets

The heritage and cultural assets held by the Archives form the national archival collection.

The Archives is responsible for caring for the most significant records of the Australian Government. Most of these records were received, created or kept by government agencies. The national archival collection consists of tens of millions of items, and includes records about immigration, military service, transport, Indigenous Australians, science and the environment, and much more.

Curatorial and preservation policies for heritage and cultural assets can be accessed at:

Capital works

In 2017–18, the Archives commenced significant capital works projects to accommodate the organisation's future operational needs.

This work included:

  • planning for relocation from East Victoria Park, Western Australia, into a new purpose-built repository facility in the suburb of Belmont accommodating 17 kilometres of storage shelving. New front-of-house public engagement accommodation in the Perth Central Business District will complement the East Victoria Park relocation – due for completion in late 2018
  • the construction of an Information Communications and Technology (ICT) Data Recovery Centre at the Archives office and repository at Chester Hill in New South Wales
  • the Mitchell (Sandford Street) storage facility refurbishment in the ACT. This significant refurbishment project will provide 75 kilometres of storage shelving and is due for completion in June 2019.



The Archives' approach to procurement of goods and services, including consultancies, is consistent with the requirements of the Commonwealth Procurement Rules. These rules are applied to the Archives' procurement activities through accountable authority instructions, and supporting guidelines and templates. The Archives continually reviews and improves its procurement processes to ensure value for money is achieved in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Framework.


During 2017–18, 24 new consultancy contracts were entered into, involving a total actual expenditure of $756,587 (including GST). In addition, six ongoing consultancy contracts were active during 2017–18. The total actual expenditure on ongoing consultancies was $279,385 (including GST).

Typical reasons for engaging consultancy services include a requirement for specialist or professional skills or where independent research or assessment is required. Consultants are engaged in accordance with the Commonwealth Procurement Rules and the selection process may have involved an open tender, including the use of an existing Australian Government panel arrangement, a prequalified tender from the legal services multi-use list or via a limited tender process.

Annual reports contain information about actual expenditure on contracts for consultancies. Information on the value of contracts and consultancies is available on the AusTender website,

Australian National Audit Office access clauses

No contracts of $100,000 or more (including GST) were let during 2017–18 that did not provide for the Auditor-General to have access to the contractor's premises.

Exempt contracts

During 2017–18 the Archives had no exempt contracts.

Procurement initiatives to support small business

The Archives supports small business participation in the Commonwealth Government procurement market and exceeds the Australian Government's target of sourcing at least 10 per cent of its purchases, by value, from small and medium enterprises (SMEs). The Archives' statistics for procuring goods and services from SMEs are published on the Department of Finance's website at purchasing-contracts/.

The Archives recognises the importance of ensuring that small businesses are paid on time. The results of the survey of Australian Government payments to small business are available on the Treasury's website

The Archives' support for small business includes:

  • using the Commonwealth Contracting Suite for low-risk procurements
  • communicating in clear, simple language and presenting information in an accessible format
  • using electronic payment systems, including the use of credit cards, to ensure small and medium enterprises are paid on time.

The Archives has incorporated the requirements of the Indigenous Procurement Policy into its procurement practice and contributes to the Attorney-General's portfolio targets for purchasing from Indigenous enterprises.