The National Archives' collection is a valuable resource for all Australians.
It helps us understand Australia's heritage and democracy, shines a light on our past and guides our future.
The collection is available through our:
- research centres in every state and territory
- public programs
We are committed to excellent customer service.
This service charter sets out the types and standards of service you can expect from us.
Each year we report on our achievement against our service standards in our Annual Report.
The charter is reviewed at least every 3 years.
We are committed to delivering services online.
Our websites are the most common way for people to access our collection.
Under the Archives Act 1983, records are publicly available once they reach the open access period.
If a record in the open access period has not been released, you can apply online for access.
When you do this we will:
- inspect the record to decide if it can be accessed under the Archives Act
- tell you the decision as soon as we can
- give you the reasons if you cannot access a record or part of a record
- advise you of your rights of appeal
Supplying digital copies of records
You can buy a digital copy of a paper record up to A3 size that has been cleared for public access.
You can order and pay for a digital copy and check the progress of orders online.
The copy will be available to view and download via our website.
Please contact us to order copies of paper records larger than A3, or formats such as microform or audiovisual records.
If copying would put a record at risk, we will give you access in another form, if possible.
Accessing original records
You can view original records cleared for public access in the research centre where the record is held.
Before visiting a research centre, check the opening hours online and submit an advance request to view records.
You can use your own camera to make copies of records.
Our research centre staff will explain our services and how to use reference tools and equipment.
If the record requires preservation treatment, there may be a delay before you can view it in a research centre.
Some records might be in a format that cannot be viewed in a research centre.
Helping with your research
Archives staff can guide you to resources that answer your queries and can give you general information on viewing and using the collection.
You can ask us a question online or in person at one of our research centres.
If your query is complex or relates to a non-standard record format, we may take more time getting back to you.
The following standards ensure you receive excellent service from the National Archives:
Access to our websites
We will ensure our websites are available 99% of the time.
Our response to access requests
We aim to make access decisions within 90 business days of receiving your application, as required under the Archives Act 1983. But, if another agency or government needs to be consulted there might be long delays.
We aim to respond to requests to reconsider an access decision within 30 business days.
Access to records
We aim to make digital copies of paper records (up to A3 in size) that have been released for public access available on our website within 30 business days of receiving your paid order.
We will retrieve records for viewing in our research centres on request.
Unless there are preservation issues, most records will be available in the Adelaide research centre within 5 business days, and in the Melbourne and Canberra research centre within 2 business days.
Record retrieval is more frequent in our other research centres.
Staff will be able to advise you on delivery times when you submit your request.
To ensure records are available when you require them, please submit a request to view records 5 days before your visit.
Our response to enquiries
We aim to respond to enquiries about the collection within 30 business days.
If your enquiry is complex or relates to records other than paper files (such as audiovisual records), we will let you know if there are any delays and suggest search strategies or other resources.
Tell us how we are doing
We welcome your feedback and suggestions to help us improve our services. You can:
- complete our survey
- send us an email
- talk to a staff member at one of our research centres
- contact the Director, Reference Services in writing, at PO Box 4924, Kingston ACT 2604
Under the Archives Act, we must release as much information as possible.
If you are concerned about information that has been released, please contact us via the form below.