The National Archives faces many challenges as a result of the tightening fiscal environment and growing public demand for our services. Budget and staffing reductions are affecting our capacity to perform our fundamental role of securing, preserving, maintaining and making accessible the authentic and essential records of the decisions and actions of government, while providing high standards of service delivery that all Australians should expect from their National Archives.
Among our urgent priorities are preserving the unique at-risk collections that tell the Australian story, including tens of thousands of deteriorating audiovisual items that could be lost as soon as 2025. Digitisation of records is struggling to keep pace with demand as more and more Australians look to connect with their identity and family history online. The digital records now being created across government in ever-growing quantities will be vulnerable to loss through technological obsolescence if not urgently secured by the National Archives and kept for future generations. As the steward of the nation's memory, we are committed to safeguarding these records by building digital capability that balances cybersecurity and public access.
We recognise that backlogs in processing requests for government documents that should now be in the public domain are testing the patience of researchers. Getting access to family and military service records can also take time, while fees and charges for digitisation services can be a barrier to access. Our education program delivery is highly valued, and we would like to provide more opportunities for young Australians across the nation to engage firsthand with our Constitution and learn about our history and democracy. More of our invaluable collection could be made available through innovative and engaging experiences in a new, purpose-built National Archives public building.
In recognition of these significant challenges and opportunities, in 2019 the Australian Government initiated an independent Functional and Efficiency Review of the National Archives to examine the purpose, role and functions of the institution and recommend the appropriate level of resourcing it should receive.
The review commenced on 2 April 2019 and was welcomed by the National Archives and its Advisory Council.
Led by former Department of Finance Secretary Mr David Tune, the Functional and Efficiency Review considered:
- the enduring role of the National Archives in the protection, preservation and use of Commonwealth information
- how the National Archives might best perform this role
- what powers, functions, resources, and legislative and governance frameworks the National Archives needs to effectively and efficiently undertake this role in the digital age.
More information on the scope of the review can be found in the terms of reference.
More than 100 submissions to the Tune Review were received. We thank our valued stakeholders and clients for their submissions.
Release of the review
Mr Tune completed his report at the end of January 2020 and submitted it to the Attorney-General for consideration.
On 12 March 2021, Assistant Minister to the Attorney-General, Senator the Hon Amanda Stoker, released the Functional and efficiency review of the National Archives of Australia.
In August 2021, the Australian Government agreed, or agreed in principle, to all 20 recommendations made by the review.
The government’s response is available on the Attorney-General’s Department website.
The National Archives has welcomed the government's response.