What's in the files?
The National Archives holds many files about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
These files contain information about:
- social welfare activities
- children’s institutions
- reserves, stations and settlements.
The information comes from files that cover:
- the Northern Territory from 1911 to 1978
- Aboriginal Affairs in Victoria from 1860 to 1970
- Australian Government activities about Aboriginal affairs.
What's in the Bringing Them Home name index?
The Bringing Them Home name index is a searchable list of names and places which we created from our files about First Australians.
It contains the names of:
- Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- non-Indigenous people related to or associated with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples
- missions, stations, settlements and institutions where Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples have lived.
The index itself only contains names – not extra information. You will need to see the files to find further details about people and places.
How can the index help you?
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people can ask National Archives staff to search the index to see if their family name or a place name is mentioned.
If we find the names you are looking for, you can ask for copies of records that mention the name or view the records in the research centre where they are held.
Sometimes the files you read may contain distressing or offensive information. They were created by government officials many years ago and were written in the insensitive language of the day.
Information we need to search the index
The more information you can give us, the easier it is to find your family stories in the files.
It will help if you can give us:
- the name of the person – including nicknames, Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples' names and any different spellings
- their date of birth and death or the age at which something important happened
- family connections – the names of their sisters, brothers or other relatives
- their language group, Country or homeland
- the place where they were born, lived, worked or were sent to
- the years when the person lived, worked or was sent to a place
- any other details you would like to mention.
Our staff will keep all the details of your request confidential.
Viewing restricted information
Some information has been withheld from public access for privacy reasons. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples tracing their families may look at the files. This is because the National Archives signed memorandums of understanding (MOU) with Aboriginal advisory groups in Victoria, the Northern Territory and South Australia.
You will need to fill out a form to see the files under the MOU. Our staff can help with this.
If you can’t visit a National Archives office, we can supply photocopies of the files. There is no charge if you are researching for family reunion under the MOU.
It’s important to remember that, if you read about other people, you must keep it confidential.
Where else to find information
Not all families are mentioned in our files and not all files are indexed because there are so many. Once you’ve read a file, you might find it only contains a small amount of information.
To learn more, you might need to:
If you would like National Archives staff to search the Bringing Them Home name index for you or need help finding information about your family, please complete an enquiry form.
You can also call or visit us at one of our state and territory offices: