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
A1928 1181/35/10/2 WA War. Emergency Civil Medical Practitioners Services. Returns of Expenditure. Queries regarding accounts and fees Western Australia. 1943 - 1943
B26 MX11669 PART 1 WHITEHEAD, Frank Ronald 1943 - 1967
A10156 258 G J Coles and Company Limited versus Thalis Shipping Corporation; Ankan Shipping Company Limited; The China Ocean Shipping Company 1971 - 1972
A1945 56/1/8 Australian Defence policy relating to Chemical and Biological warfare [459 pages available] 1962 - 1964
A12922 AT 18 The Encouragement of Australian Productions for Television - ADDITIONAL SUBMISSIONS - R C Allsop. Australian Broadcasting Control Board: 'Audience measurement Survey'. Hector Crawford, 'Commercial Television Programmes in Australia'. Peter Whitchurch Australian Broadcasting Control Board: 'TV Programme Standards'. Department of Health, Maternal and Child Welfare Branch. Newspaper cuttings. Commonwealth Literary Fund. Morris West, Ray Allsop, Extract: 'Walkabout'. Australian High Commission, Canada. Australian Legation, Sweden. Australian Embassy, Brussels. External Affairs Representative, London. Australian Embassy, The Hague. Australian Embassy, Tokyo. [Anderson Analysis Pty Ltd, 'Sampling and Estimation Procedures'] ['Total Time Devoted to Programmes of Australian Origin Analysed by Categories'] ['Background and History of Television in Australia'][External Affairs, Wellington][List of Witnesses][The McNair Survey, submission][S D Forsey, 'Ratings & the P & A D Department'] Aug 1956 - Sep 1963
MP16/1 1918/2133 Ex Private G J J McPherson, 3rd Field Ambulance AIF 1918 - 1919
MP171/5 17 Ships' registers - arrivals and departures, Melbourne 16 May 1943 - 25 Nov 1946
AWM54 179/1/20 PART 9 [Chemical Warfare - General:] Allied Land Forces, South West Pacific Area: Technical Notes and Staff Notes - Chemical Warfare, Feb 1943 [Part 9 of 19] 1943 - 1943
D455 NN Adams Quenton Marcus 1963 - 1966
D2952 PL51/1980 Waddikee - Underground electric conduit across railway land account Australian Barley Board [Sketch showing position of proposed underground electric conduit] 1980 - 1980
A7452 A93 Office of National Assessments - correspondence 1977 - 1984
AWM54 179/1/19 PART 23 [Chemical Warfare - General:] Intelligence Summaries, May 1944 [Part 23 of 35] 1944 - 1944
MP284/4 BUNDLE 8 Jenkins, Cyril 1937 - 1942
B73 M4112 EDWARDS, Benjamin John [2 cm.] 1914 - 1965
PP913/1 MX3580 GEORGE ELLIOTT 1920 - 1961
K26 HX45758 Percy George FOXON 1947 - 1953
PP902/1 MX62016 VOLUME 2 Frederick Francis ISAACS 1950 - 1981
PP645/1 MKM33949 VOLUME 1 GEPP, Maxwell John - Service Number - 5/1723 1948 - 1965
A2090 45 Box of personal index cards titled between Pooley and Quirk 1916 - 1950
B6601 174 An introduction to cryptography 1989 - 1989