Managing the collection

We accept, preserve and provide access to valuable Australian Government archival records. The records reflect significant government communications, decisions and actions.

Most records are now created digitally. However, we still have more than 40 million physical items in our collection.

Under the Digital Transition Policy, records created digitally after 2015 must be kept in a digital format. Any that are marked as RNA (Retain as National Archives) are sent to us in digital format.

Learn more about how we select records for the National Archives.

How items come into our care

Our collection is the largest single body of records documenting Australia's history.

We hold more than 45 million items in 42,000 series.

The records feature documents and items from up to 10,000 past and present Australian Government agencies and significant Commonwealth persons who served the Australian Government.

In 2017–2018 Australians viewed more than 22 million pages through the Archives' online collection database.

In most cases, Australian Government agencies and significant Commonwealth persons send us items. We assess them and then decide if they will be part of the collection.

Accepted items are preserved and made available to researchers and the public over time.

Learn more about:

Organising our holdings

We use the Commonwealth Record Series (CRS) System to control and organise government agency records.

We track, register and describe records series and items for government agencies using our main online database, RecordSearch.

The CRS System features 4 main elements:

  • organisations
  • agencies and persons
  • series
  • items

These details mean we can record:

  • where information comes from
  • who is involved in its creation
  • the context for its creation

Storing records

We have storage facilities across Australia and our holdings are growing.

High quality storage of records is one of our key preservation strategies.

The Standard for the physical storage of Australian Government records outlines the requirements for the long-term storage of archival materials.

Preserving our collection

We have 2 main strategies for preserving records:

  1. Provide controlled storage conditions for all record formats.
  2. Treat formats and records most at risk.

Learn about how we preserve the collection.

Securing our records

We safeguard our records' physical security to ensure their authenticity, reliability, integrity and proper use.

How we manage disasters and risks

We plan for disasters and risks. Under the Archives Act 1983, we must conserve and preserve the collection and protect records from damage or destruction. This is a core part of our work.

The National Disaster Preparedness and Recovery Strategy for Archival Records (PDF 311KB) details how we manage risk and disasters.

For more information about what we must do as an executive government agency, refer to: