The National Archives of Australia has embarked on a period of necessary change. It must transform at all levels to meet the future needs of government and expectations of the Australian public.
Strategy 2030 sets out the vision for a transformed and trusted National Archives: a world-leading archive empowered and resourced to ensure that authentic government information is created, secured, preserved and accessible to government and the community.
Underpinning this transformation is a comprehensive and focused drive for digital service delivery and capability.
The vision and objectives set out in Strategy 2030 further the Australian Government’s Digital transformation strategy to improve government service delivery, and its commitment to a reformed Australian Public Service, Delivering for Australians.
The National Archives is moving ahead on its transformation journey and by 2030 will have achieved objectives aligned to 4 strategies – enable, secure, connect and innovate – to transform as a trusted National Archives.
The 4-year Defend the Past, Protect the Future Program – funded through an additional $67.7 million from the Australian Government to deliver on some of the recommendations in the Functional and efficiency review of the National Archives of Australia (the Tune Review) – will enable important next steps to realise the vision set out in Strategy 2030.
This strategic statement sets out a vision for a transformed and trusted National Archives of Australia. The National Archives will be a world-leading archive, empowered and resourced to ensure that authentic government information and data are created, secured, preserved and accessible to government and the Australian community. The National Archives will create and harness new opportunities for engagement, collaboration, innovation and learning with and among government, industry, researchers and the Australian public.
The National Archives has embarked on a period of necessary change. It must transform at all levels to meet the future needs of government and expectations of the Australian public.
Underpinning the transformative strategies to enable, secure, connect and innovate is a drive for comprehensive digital capability and service delivery. This includes improving legislation, governance and workforce digital literacy; using emerging technologies to assist government agencies better manage information and data; and scaled-up capability to digitise and preserve at-risk collections.
A new cyber-secure next generation digital archive will preserve information and data, and ensure it is accessible for government and the community. New partnerships, philanthropy and opportunities for commercialisation will enable engagement with the national archival collection in creative and inventive ways. Digital capability underpins a transformed and trusted National Archives of Australia.
Six aspirations are core to this transformational journey over the next decade.
Trust in the National Archives is assured through modern and effective governance, current legislation and policies, and sound administration of resources that protect information, assets and people.
Information and data policy
The National Archives’ authority, role and advice are recognised, ensuring government entities prioritise, resource and implement the information and data management standards and requirements of the Archives Act 1983.
Secure and preserve
All archival material is identified, secured, preserved and protected from obsolescence, neglect or hostile action.
Connecting with audiences
Australians meaningfully connect with the national archival collection – the evidence and memory of this nation – starting with Australia’s Indigenous heritage, how the nation came to be and continues to evolve.
The National Archives harnesses the resources, technology and partnerships required to be one of the world’s foremost archives and a change leader.
The National Archives has a culture and sustainable resources for a dynamic user-centred and skilled workforce.
The National Archives provides leadership in best practice management of the official record of the Commonwealth and ensures that Australian Government information of enduring significance is secured, preserved and available to government agencies, researchers and the community.
Australia’s cultural identity and democracy are strengthened by connecting people with the evidence of Australian Government activities and decisions.
Deliver quality and responsive services that meet the needs and expectations of our clients and partners.
Strive to be national and international leaders in information and data management policy, digital transformation, archival collection management and creative public engagement.
Look for new and better ways to do business and deliver digital services that are user-centred and embrace the future.
Take responsibility for delivering the goals and priorities comprising a transformational program of work.
Work with the public, private and civil society sectors to achieve shared goals and outcomes.
To deliver the National Archives’ purpose and vision, transformative and innovative strategies are infused throughout its operations, to best position the agency to successfully navigate these challenges.
To achieve world-leading digital services, as well as the future cultural identity, and democratic and economic prosperity of the nation, well-managed government information and data assets are foundational to the Australian Government’s digital transformation and innovation agenda.
Delivering for Australians, the Australian Government’s vision for a transformed Australian Public Service (APS), includes priorities for:
- building a culture to support a trusted and highly ethical APS that is united in serving all Australians
- working in genuine partnership with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- developing data and digital expertise across the APS by applying the professions model and creating centres of excellence
- adopting common enabling tools and services to support efficiency, mobility and collaboration
- sharing and protecting data for better services and policies.
Transformation underpins all of the National Archives’ efforts to ensure successful delivery on its strategic and business priorities. This includes leading whole-of-government information management and policy development, enabled by reformed legislation, embracing emerging information and data management tools and implementing exemplar governance arrangements.
Scaled-up digitisation, preservation and cyber-secure digital archive capability, deepened engagement with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander communities, and developing a highly agile and skilled workforce, will all enable implementation of new approaches to service delivery to government and the Australian community.
The National Archives is moving ahead on its transformation journey and by 2030 will achieve objectives aligned to 4 strategies – enable, secure, connect and innovate – to transform as a trusted National Archives.
The National Archives plays an important role in building public trust in government by setting the information and data management policy and standards for Australian Government entities. We lead in the creation, retention, maintenance, securing, preservation, accountable management of and access to authentic government information and data. These are the official records that document the activities and the evidence of decisions of government.
The national archival collection is a critical resource for knowledge creation and sharing, which underpins the integrity of Australia’s system of democracy, enabling open interactions between the community and a transparent, responsive and accountable government.
All Australians want government to have access to authentic, complete and reliable information to make evidence-based decisions, provide sound advice, develop good policy and deliver services and programs effectively. The Australian community expects that the information they share with government will be held securely, shared responsibly and made available as accurate proof of their entitlements when needed.
The National Archives, as a trusted Australian Government institution, through its information policy Building trust in the public record: managing information for government and community will ensure information:
- facilitates the day-to-day operations of the Australian Government, enabling it to create policy and provide services across its varied responsibilities
- enables the Australian Government to be transparent, responsive and accountable to the community
- is foundational to the digital transformation agenda to improve services
- assists the Australian Government to support and protect the vulnerable, redress past injustices and reduce inequity within the community
- is available for re-use to drive innovation, increase economic productivity and enhance social and cultural outcomes
- is preserved as evidence of the most significant community interactions
- is kept as the national archival collection and forms part of the history, identity and memory of the Australian nation.
Environment and the future
The role of the National Archives in the integrity and accessibility of government information and data, as critical national infrastructure assets, has never been more important. In a globally connected digital world, societies are experiencing significant change and disruption, struggling with cyber-threats, the negative influence of disinformation and a failing trust in public institutions.
The National Archives must navigate numerous challenges on its transformation journey, including:
- reduced public trust
- technological change
- global shifts in leadership and populations
- cybersecurity threats
- a tight fiscal environment
- building new partnerships
- continued government change.
The National Archives will continue to contribute actively as an archival leader to national, regional and international archival communities and government information priorities, to evolve the role and capability of archives and record authorities, and enhance digital information management, preservation and access in the digital age.
Universal Declaration on Archives
As a member state of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Australia supports the implementation of the Universal Declaration on Archives, adopted on 10 November 2011.
Archives record decisions, actions and memories.
Archives are a unique and irreplaceable heritage passed from one generation to another. Archives are managed from creation to preserve their value and meaning. They are authoritative sources of information underpinning accountable and transparent administrative actions. They play an essential role in the development of societies by safeguarding and contributing to individual and community memory. Open access to archives enriches our knowledge of human society, promotes democracy, protects citizens’ rights and enhances the quality of life.
United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals
As a member of GLAM Peak – an alliance of peak bodies for galleries, libraries, archives, museums, historical societies and other collecting institutions in Australia – the National Archives actively supports the preservation of documentary heritage. Members contribute to 8 of the United Nations' 17 Sustainable Development Goals.
The National Archives supports these goals through its information and data management role to secure, digitise, preserve and facilitate access to government information, as well as through archival and research partnerships, and its public and education programs. It supports transparency, integrity and accountability of government decisions and activities.
Open Government Partnership
Since 2015, Australia has been a signatory to the Open Government Partnership, an international transparency and anti-corruption initiative. The National Archives is responsible for implementing the Australian Government’s commitments to ‘improve the discoverability and accessibility of government data: archived records’ and ‘deliver information management and access laws for the 21st century’.
The National Archives continues to focus on ‘making greater use of central portals, digital platforms and other tools’ to make records available and discoverable. It is working with government to develop a simpler and more coherent framework for managing and accessing government information that better reflects the digital age, including a reformed Archives Act 1983.
International Council on Archives
The National Archives, as an active member of the International Council on Archives (ICA) and its Pacific Regional Branch, supports the ICA’s leadership and collaboration in archival policy, research, skills development and capability development programs, education, conferences and information sharing fora.
The ICA and National Archives hosted the inaugural Indigenous Matters Summit, See Us, Hear Us, Walk with Us: challenging and decolonising the archive, at the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute, in Adelaide in October 2019.
The National Archives is committed to implementing the Tandanya Declaration – the first international declaration by archives on Indigenous peoples and matters. It calls for all jurisdictional archives to acknowledge and adopt themes and commitments of the declaration for immediate action to:
- embrace Indigenous worldviews and methods of creating, sharing and preserving valued knowledge
- open the meaning of public archives to Indigenous interpretations
- bring new dynamics of spirituality, ecology and Indigenous philosophy into the European traditions of archival memory
- support fair and healing remembrance of colonial encounters.
Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities
The National Archives contributes to the efforts of the Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities to promote a shared understanding, consistency and improved information and records management practice by the Australian Government, and New Zealand, Australian state and territory governments. This includes sharing information and knowledge, cross-jurisdiction collaboration, and identifying and responding to emerging issues impacting archives and records management.
Strategy 1: Enable
Enable best practice information and data management by Australian Government entities
Good information management remains essential to building trust in the creation, collection and use of Australian Government information and data as the nation’s documentary heritage, to meet the outcomes required by government and community.
In continuing to evolve its capability the National Archives will develop information and data policy, training and profession skills to ensure it is able to provide advice and assurance that the Australian Government has access to authentic, reliable and usable information and data assets. This will enable evidence-based decisions based on sound advice, the development of good policy and effective delivery of programs to facilitate services and access to the archival resources of the Australian Government.
The National Archives aspires to be an exemplar of best practice governance, with modern legislation that clarifies its role, functions and powers, enabling it to meet the future needs of government and the expectations of the Australian public.
The National Archives will:
- provide leadership of whole-of-government information and data management policy, including implementation of its Building trust in the public record policy and future information policies
- lead government information and data policy and management standards activities, ensuring the integrity of the official record, with investment in policy research, skills training and development of information professionals
- drive changed practices so that 100% of Commonwealth entities manage all information digitally
- establish a centre of excellence, investing in policy research, skills training and development of information professionals
- embrace new technology and automation of information and data management decision making.
By 2030, Australian Government entities actively apply best practice in the creation, collection and use of Australian Government information and data assets, consistent with National Archives’ information and data management policies and standards. Australian Government entities support the development of specialist information and data management professionals.
Strategy 2: Secure
Secure and preserve nationally significant Australian Government information and data
The National Archives’ challenge is not just about past collections, it is also about delivery of digital-preservation solutions for current and future information and data that will become official records of government. The National Archives will sustain the nation’s analogue archive of paper and audiovisual collections, while transforming all of its operations as a digital archive – to preserve digitised records and all digitally borne archival information and data.
The National Archives currently has many collection items at risk of loss due to deterioration, degradation and technical obsolescence of equipment required to access the items. Formats including magnetic tape, nitrate and acetate film, negatives and photos face a genuine threat of loss. With only a small percentage of the national archival collection digitised, and government and community expecting digital access to information, we need to significantly scale-up our digitisation capability to preserve and make more of the collection accessible. The National Archives also has to ensure the ongoing preservation and access of the growing borne digital records of government.
Reducing and consolidating storage arrangements are not only cost-effective, they also deliver efficiencies for whole-of-government through simplified transfer, sentencing, digitisation and accountable disposal of records. Our challenge is not just about analogue collections; it is also ensuring we deliver a secure digital-preservation solution for current and future information and data that will become official records of government, consistent with Australian Government cybersecurity guidelines.
At its heart will be a cyber-secure next generation digital archive, which combined with improved description, will enable new ways to access, use and interrogate the collection.
The National Archives will:
- sustain the nation’s analogue archive of paper and audiovisual collections
- implement a Consolidated Storage Strategy and Digitisation-Preservation Facility to consolidate whole-of-government records storage and implement enterprise-scale digitisation and appropriate disposal of paper records
- deliver a cyber-secure end-to-end integrated archival management system for preservation and access to digital information
- implement the National Digitisation Strategy and achieve 30% of the national archival collection being digitised and accessible
- apply the National Preservation Strategy so that all at-risk collections are preserved.
By 2030, National Archives processes, systems and technology platforms enable efficient selection, transfer, control, preservation and ongoing use of Australian Government information and data in all formats.
Strategy 3: Connect
Connect Australians to the national archival collection
As a national archival institution, the National Archives delivers a stimulating range of programs and services that support public engagement with, and understanding of, the national archival collection. An integrated delivery approach provides online, onsite and offsite access to the collection, regardless of whether users are in cities, regional towns or remote communities. To meet future expectations of the Australian community, government, industry and researchers, significantly more of the collection is to be described and made accessible online.
A redefined National Archives physical presence will involve research centres driving a new era of access, agency and public engagement and research. As well as deepened creative and industry partnerships and collaborations, this will involve new opportunities for inventive approaches through philanthropic, sponsor and community support.
We will also continue our reconciliation journey, with a commitment to strengthen our connection with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples by embracing Indigenous methods of creating, sharing and preserving valued knowledge, open the meaning of public archives to Indigenous interpretations, and support fair and healing remembrance of colonial encounters.
Realising the vision of a permanent National Archives building, as the ‘people’s place’ which holds the nation’s memory, remains a priority.
The National Archives will:
- develop and implement a Digital Publishing Strategy
- embed the commitments and values of its Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy and the Tandanya Declaration through respectful engagement with community
- reimagine the design and footprint of how audiences engage with the collection
- implement the National Reference Strategy and National Description Strategy to identify and describe 100% of the national archival collection
- realise the vision of a purpose-built building in the nation’s capital.
By 2030, all Australians can access, engage with and learn from authentic information in the national archival collection online in more dynamic and diverse ways.
Strategy 4: Innovate
Innovate to lead archival practice in the digital age
As we grow the digital collection and deliver new online services, the National Archives needs to implement a cyber-secure next generation digital archive that will store the national archival collection so it is available and accessible when needed by government, industry, researchers and the Australian community. Investing in partnerships across cultural, creative, research and information/data-driven industries to provide pathways for new uses of the collection, creation of new intellectual property or commercial ventures, will be core to the success of the National Archives.
Modern and effective corporate governance and current legislation remain essential for the efficient oversight, accountability and ethical management of resources and the ability to innovate and lead information policy. The National Archives will continue to develop capability aligned to core business needs, support for skills mobility, training and proactive management of cultural change, including implementing plans to address emerging capability gaps due to new service requirements and an ageing workforce.
The National Archives will build collaborative partnerships with peer institutions such as the National Film and Sound Archive and third-party suppliers to ensure proactive solutions to our challenges are developed and realised.
The National Archives is a leader and partner with the international, regional and domestic archival community, engaging with and learning from the shared experiences of many national and regional archives around the world – all of whom are grappling with the challenges of sustaining their enduring role in the preservation of records and changing roles in a digital age. Through this work, the National Archives actively contributes to Australia’s soft power efforts, supporting, developing and delivering a range of bilateral and multilateral projects and initiatives.
This includes collaborating with archival communities to evolve capability in the development of archival and digital information preservation and storage capability, and capacity for good information and data management practices.
The National Archives will:
- invest in new government and industry partnerships and commercial opportunities
- strengthen the capability of Pacific-region national archives and implement a digital archive to preserve documentary heritage
- deliver and maintain a cyber-secure next generation digital archive
- implement modern governance, with current legislation, policies and procedures
- implement the Workforce Strategy and Capability Framework to develop dynamic leadership of a user-centred and digitally skilled workforce.
By 2030, the National Archives will maintain modern and effective governance and current legislation as a world leader in digital archiving, information policy and standards development, process and systems design, and archival service delivery.