Security and intelligence records

There have been a range of security and intelligence agencies in Australia since Federation. The records they created, usually organised based on individuals or groups of interest, offer a wealth of information on ordinary Australians, Australian society, and the administrative history of the Australian Government.

Knowing where to start when researching the records of Australia’s security and intelligence agencies can be a difficult and daunting task. But once you understand what agencies existed at a particular time, and what their functions were, your task becomes much easier. You can then browse the records created by a particular agency, or during a particular period.

The interactive timeline is a useful starting point for research into Australia’s security and intelligence records. It shows, for instance, the expansion of agencies during World War II, as well as what became of the agencies and whether their functions were adopted by later agencies. Furthermore, it highlights those agencies that are still in existence today and which form part of the Australian Intelligence Community.

Further information on each of the agencies depicted on the timeline, including details of their roles, responsibilities, and the location of their records is available in the Guide to security and intelligence records in the National Archives


Publications and other resources about security and intelligence


In the Interest of National Security: Civilian Internment in Australia during World War II, by Klaus Neumann, National Archives of Australia, 2006.

Research Guides

Finding Families: The Guide to the National Archives of Australia for Genealogists

Australia in Focus: Photographs in the National Archives

Sound Recordings in the National Archives

Safe Haven: Records of the Jewish Experience in Australia

Chinese-Australian Journeys: Records on Travel, Migration and Settlement, 1860–1975

Chinese Immigrants and Chinese-Australians in NSW

Allies, Enemies and Trading Partners: Records on Australia and the Japanese

Near Neighbours: Records on Australia’s relations with Indonesia

The Sinking of HMAS Sydney

Collections in Perth: A Guide to Commonwealth Government records

Collections in Melbourne: A Guide to Commonwealth Government records

Fact sheets

Security and intelligence

Papers and podcasts

Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security


Royal Commission on Intelligence and Security, 1974–77

Guide to the RCIS records

ASIO films

Uncommon Lives – online biographies

Jessie Street – human rights campaigner with a substantial ASIO file

Muslim Journeys – surprising stories of adventure and adversity of Australia's Muslim pioneers

Wolf Klaphake – German scientist and inventor who was interned in Australia during World War II


    Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019