The National Archives of Australia has extended the scope of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander records disposal freeze to include records relating to stolen wages. It is to include records relating to the payment or withholding of wages, pensions and allowances. It also includes records that contain information, policy or procedures about withholding wages, pensions or allowances from Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander people between 1 January 1901 and 31 December 1989 or contain information about affected individuals.
This extension applies to records created between 1 January 1901 and 31 December 1989. If agencies have inherited relevant records created prior to this period, they should also be included.
That Commonwealth, State and Territory governments provide access to all Government archival records pertaining to the family and community histories of Aboriginal people so as to assist the process of enabling Aboriginal people to re-establish community and family links with those from whom they have been separated as a result of past policies of the Government...
In 1996 the National Archives implemented a freeze on the destruction of all records in its custody that could be of use to Indigenous people tracing their family and community connections.
In 1997 the Bringing Them Home report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families recommended:
That no records relating to Indigenous individuals, families or communities or to any children, Indigenous or otherwise, removed from their families for any reason, whether held by government or non-government agencies, be destroyed.
In its formal response to this report, the Government supported the indefinite freeze on the destruction of records which might be of assistance in Indigenous family reunions. In September 2000 the 1996 freeze was extended to cover records still in the custody of selected Australian Government agencies (pdf, 39kB).
In 2009, the Archives extended the scope of the disposal freeze on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander records. The extension covers records that contain information on policy or procedures about withholding wages, pensions or allowances from indigenous Australians between 1 January 1901 and 31 December 1989, or information about individuals affected by these policies and procedures. The Archives has provided a set of guidelines for agency staff (pdf, 636kB) in relation to this records disposal freeze.