The Information Publication Scheme (IPS) encourages an agency to publish information proactively.
The National Archives of Australia is an agency subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act).
As required by s 8(1) of the FOI Act, this Agency Plan describes how the National Archives complies with the Information Publication Scheme (IPS) established by the FOI Act.
- In this Plan, information published by the National Archives under the IPS is referred to as the IPS information holdings (or as the IPS documents, when referring to individual documents).
The National Archives recognises that public sector information is a national resource managed for public purposes.
- The Archives is building and fostering a culture that embraces appropriate proactive disclosure of its information holdings, leading to successful implementation and administration of the IPS
- The Archives monitors how other agencies implement and administer their contributions to the IPS, with a view to adopting best practice in its Agency Plan and its Statement of IPS Information Holdings.
The purpose of this Agency Plan is to:
- assist the National Archives in planning and developing its contribution to the IPS
- show what information the National Archives publishes as IPS information holdings
- show how the IPS information holdings are published
- show how the National Archives otherwise complies with the IPS requirements (s 8(1))
- facilitate public consultation about the above aspects.
The objectives of this Plan are to outline how the National Archives:
- manages its IPS information holdings
- proactively identifies and publishes all information required to be published under the IPS (s 8(2))
- proactively identifies and publishes any optional information (s 8(4))
- reviews and ensures on a regular basis that information published under the IPS is accurate, up to date and complete (s 8B)
- ensures that information published under the IPS is easily discoverable, understandable, machine-readable, re-useable and transformable
- ensures satisfactory conformance with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (Version 2) (WCAG 2.0)
- measures the success of the National Archives’ IPS contribution by reference to community feedback and compliance review processes.
The National Archives' Corporate Governance section maintains the National Archives' compliance with the IPS. The Assistant Director-General, Corporate Services Branch, has overall responsibility.
Corporate Governance liaises with all National Archives branches to:
- identify documents that should form part of the IPS
- identify any IPS documents that are not accurate, up to date or complete
- ensure that IPS documents which are not accurate, up to date or complete are revised in a timely manner.
Members of the public may contact the National Archives' FOI contact officer with comments on the IPS information holdings, particularly where documents are found not to be discoverable, understandable or machine-readable.
The National Archives arranges for IPS documents which are not available on its website to be made available upon request.
The National Archives may charge a person for accessing any IPS document which it is impracticable to publish online:
- at the lowest reasonable cost
- to reimburse specific reproduction costs or other specific incidental costs (s 8D(4)).
The National Archives' IPS information holdings are published on its website under the following headings:
- Agency Plan (ss 8(2)(a)
- Who we are (ss 8(2)(b) and 8(2)(d))
- What we do (ss 8(2)(c) and 8(2)(j))
- Our reports and responses to Parliament (ss 8(2)(e) and 8(2)(h))
- Routinely requested information and disclosure log (ss 8(2)(g) and 11C)
- Consultation arrangements (s 8(2)(f))
- Our priorities (s 8(4))
- Our finances (s 8(4))
- Our lists (s 8(4))
- Contact us (s 8(2)(i)).
To ensure that the IPS information holdings (and individual IPS documents) are easily discoverable, understandable and machine-readable, the National Archives:
- publishes an IPS entry point on its website
- wherever possible, provides online content in a format that can be searched, copied and transformed
- publishes a sitemap for its website, to help individuals identify the location of information published under ss 8(2) and 8(4)
- provides a search function for its website
- establishes links to this Agency Plan and to the sitemap at www.directory.gov.au
- seeks and responds to community feedback about whether the IPS information holdings (and individual IPS documents) are easily discoverable, understandable and machine-readable.
Information publication scheme
Under Subsection 8(2) of the FOI Act, the National Archives has established the IPS, promoting a pro-disclosure culture across the agency.
In accordance with the FOI Act, the page contains information about the National Archives that has been published under the scheme. In promoting the culture and recognising that public sector information should be treated as a resource the information provided seeks to assist the public to have a better understanding of how the National Archives administers its program and makes decisions.
Who we are
The National Archives of Australia was established under the Archives Act 1983 (Cth) (Archives Act). It is a budget-funded agency within the Attorney-General's Department portfolio, and is an Executive Agency under Section 65 of the Public Service Act 1999 (Cth).
The head of the National Archives is the Director-General, a statutory position created under Section 7 of the Archives Act. The Director-General is appointed by the responsible Minister, the Hon Christian Porter MP. Section 10 of the Archives Act establishes the National Archives' Advisory Council. The Council has up to 13 members, including a Senator chosen by the Senate, a member of the House of Representatives chosen by the House, and 11 other members appointed by the Minister.
In accordance with the objects of the Archives Act, our mission is to identify the archival resources of the Commonwealth; preserve and make publically available the archival resources of the Commonwealth; oversee Commonwealth record-keeping by determining standards and providing advice to Commonwealth institutions; and to impose record-keeping obligations in respect of Commonwealth records.
What we do
The roles and responsibilities of the Archives are set out in the Archives Act. In that context, the Archives are funded by the Australian Government to achieve one outcome:
To promote the creation, management and preservation of authentic, reliable and usable Commonwealth records and to facilitate Australians’ access to the archival resources of the Commonwealth.
The Archives aims to achieve the intended results of its outcome via the following strategies.
The Collection Management Branch is responsible for activities associated with delivering Outcome 1, including developing and providing policy advice and practical assistance to Australian Government agencies in records and information management, particularly promoting integrated digital management of information, and implementing the disposal provisions of the Archives Act 1983. The Branch is also responsible for arranging transfer of archival records from agencies, storing, securing, indexing and describing these records, locating, tracking and delivering records requested by government agencies and the public, as well as making archival records accessible through preservation, conservation, digitisation and imaging. Other activity associated with delivering Outcome 1 is managing the acquisition and preservation of personal records of significant individuals who served within, or were closely associated with, the Australian Government.
Access and Public Engagement
The Access and Public Engagement Branch is responsible for activities associated with delivering Outcome 1, including research facilities, websites, exhibitions, programs and events that help the public access, research and interpret the records held by the Archives. The Archives provides access to, promotes, interprets and communicates the national archive. It provides timely and appropriate access through the national reference service and the national network of reading rooms. The national archive will also be accessed through the Archives’ websites and the National Digitisation Service making the national archives more accessible by increasing the on-line records pages on the Archives’ website. The Archives also fosters engagement with Australians to assist them to learn about their heritage and democracy, and the role of the Archives.
Our Outcome is supported by the Corporate Services Branch to ensure the Archives has effective governance and financial management frameworks in place to ensure the financial sustainability of the agency and consistently display organisational excellence. The organisational chart provides additional information about the Archives structure.
Details of the resources available to the National Archives through government funding can be obtained from the Portfolio Budget Statements. The National Archives reports on its achievements in its Annual Report. Plans and priorities for the future are outlined in the National Archives' Corporate Plan.
Section 5 of the Archives Act provides that the National Archives' functions include:
- developing and providing policy advice on managing Commonwealth records;
- promoting and ensuring preservation of Commonwealth records for as long as they are needed;
- providing personal and corporate records services for people or organisations closely associated with the Australian Government;
- assembling and making available management and descriptive information about records and the current and former agencies responsible for them;
- facilitating awareness and use of records by the public; and
- promoting archival research in Australia, and encouraging scholarly use of the Archives collection.
Under Sections 5 and 6 of the Archives Act, the National Archives has decision making powers that can potentially affect members of the public in relation to the following matters:
- the determination of custodial and storage arrangements for Commonwealth records that are of enduring value;
- the authorisation (with the concurrence of the agency whose records are involved) of the retention or destruction (after a specified period) of records;
- the regulation of public access to records that are in the 'open access' period, in accordance with the Archives Act and in consultation with the agencies concerned;
- the determination of the standards of reference and advisory services provided to the public, including reading room hours, levels of reference assistance and documentation provided; and
- the awarding of research grants for advanced research and professional development.
The following documents provide useful background information about the National Archives generally, and the framework within which access to records is managed:
- The Commonwealth Records Series (CRS) Manual, which provides the framework for the Archives’ intellectual control of its collection; and
- The National Archives' Annual Report.
The following policies and procedures are used by the National Archives:
- Records authorities which authorise the destruction or other disposal of Commonwealth records (not all Records Authorities are available on the website);
- What we keep: Principles for selecting the Australian Government’s national archives which explains the principles, and associated considerations, we use to select Australian Government information for inclusion in the national archival collection.;
- Preventing the Destruction of Significant Records which provides advice and guidance for circumstances where it may be appropriate for the Archives to prevent the destruction of a group of records (a 'disposal freeze');
- How to apply which outlines how applications for research grants will be assessed;
- Operations and Preservation policy and planning
- Access Examination Policy – personal, business and professional affairs of a person.
Our reports and responses to Parliament
The National Archives prepares an Annual Report for the Minister who tables the Annual Report in Parliament.
On 3 December 1998 the Senate adopted a recommendation of the Finance and Public Administration References Committee that varied the tabling requirements under the Senate Continuing Order No. 5 (the Harradine motion). Under the varied Order, agencies are now required to publish lists of files created, at half yearly intervals.
- Review of the operation of the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (Cth) and the Australian Information Act 2010 (Cth) which was undertaken by Dr Allan Hawke AC.
- OAIC - Issues paper 2 - Understanding the value of public sector information in Australia (pdf, 155kb), (doc, 48kb)
- ALRC - Draft Terms of Reference for Australian Law Reform Commission Reference Copyright: Submissions to Issues Paper and Submissions to Discussion Paper
- Parliamentary Standing Committee on Public Works - New National Archives Preservation Facility and refurbishment of the existing Mitchell facility for the National Archives of Australia at Mitchell, ACT.
Routinely requested information
Through its disclosure log, the Archives publishes information contained in documents that has been provided under the FOI Act.
Arrangements for public consultation
The FOI Act requires agencies to report whenever an agency administers or establishes a public consultation arrangement in the course of developing a specific policy proposal, including how and to whom a comment may be submitted by members of the public.
- The Archives currently does not have any proposals or arrangements that are relevant to this FOI Act requirement.
- If circumstances change, the Archives will publish information on this page.
Separately from the above requirements of the FOI Act, the Archives engages with stakeholders on a regular basis.
The Archives holds consultative forums in each state and territory.
- Meetings of consultative forums are chaired by the Director of the Archives' office in each state or territory, and include historians, genealogists, and representatives from various community groups.
- Through consultative forums, stakeholders articulate community views and expectations, and contribute to decisions that affect the Archives’ records and services.
The Archives also engages specifically with Indigenous stakeholders.
- The Archives' Northern Territory Aboriginal Advisory Group comprises representatives from the Northern Territory Stolen Generations Aboriginal Corporation, Central Australian Stolen Generations and Families Aboriginal Corporation, and community representatives from the Top End and Central Australia. The group meets biannually to discuss issues, practices, policies and services associated with access to Commonwealth records by Indigenous people.
- A similar Aboriginal Advisory Group exists in Victoria, and the Archives also has a relationship with Nunkuwarrin Yunti of South Australia.
Optional information to be published under the IPS
Under the FOI Act, agencies are encouraged to publish more than just the required categories of information. Therefore, consistent with advice from the Office of the Australian Information Commissioner, the Archives also publishes:
Routine reporting of the following information is a requirement of the government:
Access charges for documents not available on the website
Some National Archives documents are impracticable to publish online, such as pre-1999 Annual Reports.
A person seeking access to any of these, or other documents not discussed above, may contact the National Archives' FOI contact officer to arrange access.
Charges may be imposed for making that information available. Charges will be consistent with charges in the Freedom of Information (Charges) Regulations 1982 (which generally apply to access requests under Part III of the FOI Act).
For copies of records accessed under the Archives Act please see Copying Charges.
If you would like to contact us about anything related to the Information Publication Scheme, contact details are below:
National Archives of Australia
PO Box 4924
Kingston ACT 2604
Tel: +61 2 6212 3600