Closed access


Under the Australian Archives Act 1983 most Commonwealth records are opened to public scrutiny after twenty years (this was reduced from thirty years in 2010). But the Act also defines ‘exempt’ records that can be withheld from the public for a variety of reasons, including the defence of national security, and the protection of individual privacy. Access under the Act is not an inevitable destination, but a process that may result in records with the access status of ‘closed’.

Here you can explore these closed files. Why can't we look at them? How old are they? What are we really being protected against?


closed files

on 1 January 2016


why these files have been closed


is the average age of these files
based on their date of their earliest content


contain closed files

BE WARNED! This is a work in progress. It's part of an ongoing research project by Tim Sherratt (@wragge). As a result, this interface is likely to change. That said, pretty much everything should work, so feel free to poke around and see what you can find. Have fun!

Here's some examples…

Series Control Symbol Title Contents dates
A12812 137 Inquiry into CSIRO Marine Laboratories, Hobart TAS - Submissions, briefing papers,supplementary submissions, tabling details, correspondence, approval of work 12 May 1981 - 15 Sep 1981
D2952 PL47/1980 Port Lincoln Division - Extension to sidings [References: Waddikee - PL42/1980, Cungena - PL43/1980, Lock - PL44/1980, Yeelanna - PL45/1980, Port Lincoln Yard - PL48/1980] 1980 - 1980
PP927/1 MX11775 VOLUME 1 Albert George Welshman 1946 - 1974
PP904/1 MX1971 Arnold Hamer 1917 - 1963
A13207 CMHC85 Select Committee on the Container Method of Handling Cargoes - Trans Australian Shipping Pty Ltd Sep 1967 - Jul 1968
J1331 J86/63 Checklist [known as item lists] - Correspondence files - Australian Construction Services 1983 - 1989
A1838 816/2/3 PART 5 USSR - Reports on Economic Development - Food & Agriculture 1966 - 1966
M4843 12 Personal correspondence of Sir Alan Watt as Ambassador - Bonn Mar 1960 - Dec 1961
K60 MX61892 WILLIAMS, Richard John - Service Number - 45052 1944 - 1985
A4531 201/1/3 PART 1 Saigon - Vietnam personalities [re Republic of Vietnam also known as South Vietnam] 08 May 1956 - 23 Apr 1966
D2952 PL52/1979 Poochera - Construction of new silos by S.A.C.B.H. [Plan number X80/1 - Poochera - Site plan showing location of new steel silos - Scale 1:480, Sketch of number 3 silo location] 1979 - 1981
P130 R10542 Rafferty, Rupert 1918 - 1951
A461 BC354/1 Inventions Proctor Dr O S 1948 - 1949
B1535 724/2/234 [Medical Examination of Candidates for the Royal Military College] 1935 - 1935
A12987 MHC40 Senate Select Committee on Medical and Hospital Costs - Correspondence - HCF The Hospitals Contribution Fund of Australia Jul 1968 - Apr 1969
D4082 AO435 Lenore Ougham [ Oudham ] 1973 - 1973
AWM54 244/2/6 [Demolitions - Schemes:] Demolition Plans: Brisbane Fortress Area, Belt "F" 1939 - 1945
B26 MX43716 PART 1 ICKERINGILL, Lloyd Wesley 1941 - 1966
A816 66/301/253 Proposed British Awards to members of the Australian Red Cross for services in South-East Asia. 1946 - 1947
M1335 31 PART 2 [Personal Papers of Prime Minister Fraser] Senator Hon R G Withers [as Minister for Administrative Services, includes papers relating to termination of Ministerial appointment following Robinson Royal Commission of Inquiry into Electoral Redistribution of Queensland in 1977, tender for Australian Bureau of Statistics computer equipment, communication of Government decisions to the public etc] 20 Dec 1977 - 28 Dec 1978