National Archives to invest $3 million to save at-risk audiovisual records

Tuesday, 27 October 2020

Priceless audio and video recordings documenting Australian history will be preserved for future generations through a $3 million investment by the National Archives of Australia.

National Archives Director-General David Fricker today announced the funding to digitise more than 30,000 at-risk audiovisual records.

“At a time of growing budget pressures, the National Archives has taken the decision to make this significant investment in saving magnetic media records, which otherwise could be lost forever in the next five years,” Mr Fricker said.

“After 2025 the skills and equipment needed to digitise magnetic tape will be harder to come by and the media itself will have begun to irretrievably deteriorate, so the time to act is now.

“This $3 million investment will increase our digitised audiovisual collection to more than 120,000 items, almost halfway to preserving the most critically at-risk material.”

The National Archives has a vast audiovisual collection from Commonwealth Government agencies and public broadcasters spanning nearly 100 years and documenting almost every aspect of national life. 

National Archives Assistant Director of Audiovisual Preservation Caroline Ashworth said the $3 million would fund the first year of work under a planned five year program to future proof the most critical items in the collection.  

“We hold collections of great significance and importance to First Nations people across Australia, including testimonies from the Stolen Generation, Native Title land claims, Royal Commissions and Enquiries,” Ms Ashworth said.

“We also have audio and video content covering science, technology and the environment, from Antarctica to the Great Barrier Reef, Woomera to the Snowy Hydro scheme, national weather station data to Australia Post advertisements from the 1980s.

“Here at the National Archives we are doing everything we can to conserve these materials and memories for our nation and its future generations.”

The funding announcement coincides with the UNESCO World Day for Audiovisual Heritage 2020, with the theme of your window to the world. For more information, visit the UNESCO website.

Available for interview: Caroline Ashworth, Assistant Director Audiovisual Preservation

Contact information

National Archives of Australia Media Team
Phone: 0417 247 157