ASIO records

The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) collects and evaluates intelligence relevant to Australia’s domestic security.

The National Archives holds many ASIO records on the investigation and surveillance of people, groups and organisations.

What ASIO records do we hold?

Most of our ASIO records are paper files, but we also have some films, photographs and sound recordings.

Unlike other Australian Government agencies, ASIO is not obliged to send records to the National Archives 15 years after they were created. Records are usually only transferred to us when someone applies for access to them.

That means most of the ASIO records we hold have been previously requested.

The main ASIO records we have are:

For help finding ASIO records in our collection, see getting started with your research and keyword searching in RecordSearch.

Requesting access to ASIO records

ASIO is not subject to the same freedom of information requirements as other government agencies. That means access to ASIO records is only available through the Archives Act 1983.

ASIO records are eligible for public release once they enter the open access period. However, sensitive material is exempt.

If you can’t find a specific ASIO record in RecordSearch, submit an application by completing our intelligence and surveillance records inquiry form.

Please provide as much information as possible about the person you are searching for, including:

  • their full name and date of birth (or approximate year of birth)
  • any other names they might have been known by
  • the city, state or territory they lived when of possible ASIO interest
  • the reason for possible ASIO interest, such as involvement in political associations, participation in demonstrations, or association with other people under surveillance.

We will forward your application to ASIO to search for relevant records.

If any records are found they will be transferred to the National Archives so you can access them.

Interpreting ASIO records

The content of ASIO records can vary depending on the intelligence gathered about a person, organisation or subject.

ASIO records are mainly for internal use, so they can be sometimes be difficult for members of the public to interpret.

Information on ASIO recordkeeping practices, interpreting records, and commonly used acronyms and abbreviations can be found in David McKnight's chapter 'How to read your ASIO file' in the book Dirty Secrets: Our ASIO Files.