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Keyword for Councils

Overview | Components of Keyword for Councils | Purchasing Keyword for Councils | Who uses Keyword for Councils


Keyword for Councils is a thesaurus designed for use in classifying, titling and indexing all council records in all technological environments. It covers terminology common to business functions and activities undertaken by all councils, and records created or received by all councils in the course of its business.

Released in 2001, Keyword for Councils is based on the business classification scheme for local government developed as part of the General Disposal and Retention Authority for local government (GDA10).

Keyword for Councils should provide comprehensive vocabulary coverage of a council's records. There is no need to customise or develop additional terminology. As the thesaurus uses terminology drawn from the General Retention and Disposal Authority - Local Government Records, councils will be able to easily classify and title records and locate the appropriate disposal action in the General Retention and Disposal Authority to sentence records at the point of creation.

Components of Keyword for Councils

Keywords | Activity descriptors | Subject descriptors | Free text | Scope notes | Broader terms (BT) | Narrower terms (NT) | Non-preferred terms | Related terms (RT) | Permitted acronyms and abbreviations | Parenthetical qualifiers | SEE reference | Use reference 


Keywords (KW) represent the functions of local government. Keywords are identified in hard copy versions of Keyword for Councils in large UPPER CASE with the word keyword at the end of the term line. A scope note and narrower terms are listed below each entry. Keywords must always be the first element in a file title.

Activity descriptors

Activity descriptors are identified in hard copy versions of Keyword for Councils by UPPER CASE with the word activity descriptor at the end of the term line. They appear as narrower terms of keywords and broader terms of subject descriptors in the software. The activity descriptor reflects the activities performed within the function that is represented by the keyword.

A keyword is followed by one activity descriptor (AD). Only keywords and activity descriptors that are linked in the thesaurus and Classification Guide should be used together.

Subject descriptors

Terms that describe the subject of the activity descriptor are listed in the Classification Guide. They are also included in the alphabetical listing in the body of the thesaurus.

The subject descriptors listed are the ones most likely to be associated with activity descriptors they are linked to. However, subject descriptors can be free floating, that is, they can be used with any activity descriptor deemed appropriate, not just those they are linked to. In addition, more than one subject descriptor can be added to a file title if desired.

The subject descriptors listed are not comprehensive and are offered as a guide only. Adding all subjects that could be contemplated in local government, and all their non preferred terms, would make the thesaurus too large to be useable. If subject descriptors are insufficient, councils might consider adding their own subject descriptors, or free text may be used additionally or alternatively as is appropriate.

Free text

Free text terms are not listed in the thesaurus. Free text cannot be used to replace either keywords or activity descriptors. However, it can be used instead of or in addition to subject descriptors. Generally, free text includes names, words, actions or dates.

Free text it should ideally be short and concise. It is often these elements that people will recall when they wish to search for a file so choose terms that will aid retrieval.

Administrators should consider whether their councils require additional terms to be added to their merged thesauri at the subject descriptor level to prevent staff assigning inadequate free text terms that may adversely affect retrieval.

Scope notes

Scope notes provide unique definitions of terms and directions on how to use them. They provide a consistent approach and discourage personal interpretations of the same term by different people across the organisation.

Broader terms (BT)

Broader terms are concepts having wider meanings. In Keyword for Councils, keywords are broader terms than activity descriptors, and activity descriptors are broader terms than subject descriptors.

Narrower terms (NT)

Narrower terms are concepts having more specific meanings. Narrower terms break down a broader concept to more specific aspects of that concept. In Keyword for Councils activity descriptors are narrower terms to keywords and subject descriptors are narrower terms to activity descriptors.

Keywords and activity descriptors have a scope note and narrower terms listed below each entry.

Non-preferred terms

Non-preferred terms are identified in the hard copy of Keyword for Councils by italics (except when listed under a term) with the word non-preferred term at the end of the term line. They are synonyms replaced by authorised or preferred terms. The USE reference indicates the preferred term. Non-preferred terms were formerly called forbidden terms.

Related terms (RT)

Related terms bear a close relationship in meaning to the other terms. Related subject descriptors may be used additionally to subject descriptors already selected. Alternatively, the scope notes of related terms may be read to see if they are a more accurate keyword or descriptor to use.

Permitted acronyms and abbreviations

Acronyms are pronounceable names made from a series of initial letters or parts of words. For example, UNESCO is the acronym for the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation. Abbreviations are shortened or contracted words such as NSW for New South Wales.

In Keyword for Councils acronyms and abbreviations are generally non-preferred terms.The full term should be used. This is because acronyms and abbreviations change at a rapid pace. More importantly their meaning is obscured to all but those ‘in the know.’ They can be alienating for those not aware of their meaning and may ultimately be meaningless in reflecting the content and context of the record in the file title.

In cases where the acronym or abbreviation has become widely recognised, for example LAN or WAN, the acronym may be used. These are identified in the thesaurus with permitted acronym at the end of the scope note. When an acronym is not permitted, it may be added to the end of the full version of the term (in brackets) to facilitate searching.

Parenthetical qualifiers

Parenthetical qualifiers are used to qualify or specify the context of an entry in order to remove ambiguity. In the case of homographs (example below) only one term is a preferred term, the other(s) are non-preferred terms, distinguished by the USE reference directing the user to a preferred term.

SEE reference

In Keyword for Councils, several terms have the word 'SEE' written at the end of the term line. These terms are to direct users to other terms in the thesaurus or to sources outside the scope of the thesaurus.

Use reference

In Keyword for Councils the Use reference is there to direct a user from a non-preferred term to an authorised term (keyword, activity descriptor or subject descriptor).

Purchasing Keyword for Councils

Licence details | Whole of government arrangements for Keyword for Councils

Please download and complete the Licence and Ordering Form (PDF, 149kb) and either mail or email to State Records to

Councils from outside Australia wishing to purchase Keyword for Councils should contact State Records on email or telephone (02) 8257 2900.

Note: If your council is in Western Australia or Queensland, please see below.

Licence details

Keyword for Councils is sold through an organisation-wide licence. A perpetual licence permits the licensee to use the thesaurus throughout a council, making as many copies as are necessary in hard copy or electronic form, adapting it for use with records management software and making it available over a computer network, as desired.

The Keyword for Councils licence agreement entitles the user to 2 electronic copies of Keyword for Councils, one copy in Word format and the second copy in a format of their choice. Formats to chose from include:

aka rtf
CSV Comma delimited Tab delimited
Excel Term Treet
Objective TRIM
One-2-One Word

For more information about Keyword for Councils, please contact State Records.

Whole of government arrangements for Keyword for Councils

Whole of government arrangements have been established in Western Australia and Queensland, which provide easy access to Keyword for Councils. If your council is in Western Australia or Queensland, please contact the archives/records authority in your state:

Who uses Keyword for Councils

NSW Local Government | Queensland Local Government | South Australian Local Government | Tasmanian Local Government | Victorian Local Government | Western Australian Local Government | ACT Government | Northern Territory Local Government | Overseas councils | Other organisations

NSW Local Government

  • Albury City Council
  • Armidale Dumaresq Council
  • Ashfield Municipal Council
  • Auburn Council
  • Ballina Shire Council
  • Bankstown City Council
  • Bega Valley Shire Council
  • Bellingen Shire Council
  • Berrigan Shire Council
  • Blacktown City Council
  • Bland Shire Council
  • Blayney Shire Council
  • Blue Mountains City Council
  • Bogan Shire Council
  • Brewarrina Shire Council
  • Broken Hill City Council
  • Burwood City Council
  • Byron Shire Council
  • Cabonne Council
  • Camden Council
  • Campbelltown City Council
  • Canterbury City Council
  • Carrathool Shire Council
  • Cessnock City Council
  • City of Botany Bay
  • City of Canada Bay Council
  • City of Sydney Council
  • Clarence Valley Council
  • Coffs Harbour City Council
  • Coonamble Shire Council
  • Cowra Shire Council
  • Deniliquin Council
  • Dubbo City Council
  • Dungog Shire Council
  • Eurobodalla Shire Council
  • Fairfield City Council
  • Gilgandra Shire Council
  • Goldenfields Water County Council
  • Gosford City Council
  • Great Lakes Council
  • Greater Hume Shire Council
  • Greater Taree City Council
  • Griffith City Council
  • Guyra Shire Council
  • Gywdir Shire Council
  • Hay Shire Council
  • Hornsby Shire Council
  • Hurstville City Council
  • Inverell Shire Council
  • Jerilderie Shire Council
  • Kempsey Shire Council
  • Kogarah Council
  • Ku-ring-gai Council
  • Lachlan Shire Council
  • Lake Macquarie City Council
  • Lane Cove City Council
  • Leeton Shire Council
  • Leichhardt Council
  • Lismore City Council
  • Lithgow City Council
  • Liverpool City Council
  • Maitland City Council
  • Manly Council
  • Marrickville Council
  • Mid-Western Regional Council
  • Mosman Municipal Council
  • Murrumbidgee SHire Council
  • Muswellbrook Shire Council
  • Narrabri Shire Council
  • Narrandera Shire Council
  • Narromine Shire Council
  • Parkes Shire Council
  • Parramatta City Council
  • Penrith City Council
  • Pittwater Council
  • Port Macquarie - Hastings Council
  • Port Stephens Council
  • Queanbeyan City Council
  • Randwick City Council
  • Richmond Valley Council
  • Riverina Water County Council
  • Roads and Traffic Authority
  • Rockdale City Council
  • Ryde City Council
  • Snowy River Shire Council
  • Strathfield Council
  • Sutherland Shire Council
  • Sydney Ports Corporation
  • Tamworth Regional Council
  • Temora Shire Council
  • Tenterfield Shire Council
  • The Hills Shire Council
  • Tweed Shire Council
  • Upper Hunter Shire Council
  • Upper Lachlan Shire Council
  • Uralla Shire Council
  • Wagga Wagga City Council
  • Walcha Shire Council
  • Walgett Shire Council
  • Warringah Council
  • Waverley Council
  • Wellington Council
  • Willoughby City Council
  • Wentworth Shire Council
  • Wollondilly Shire Council
  • Wollongong City Council
  • Woollahra Municipal Council
  • Wyong Shire Council
  • Yass Valley Council

Queensland Local Government

  • Whole of Government licence
  • Fraser Coast Regional Council
  • Maroochy Shire Council

South Australian Local Government

  • Adelaide City Council
  • Adelaide Hills Council

Tasmanian Local Government

  • Break O’Day Council
  • Central Coast Council
  • Circular Head Council
  • City of Burnie
  • Clarence City Council
  • Devonport City Council
  • Dorset Council
  • Glamorgan Spring Bay Council
  • Glenorchy City Council
  • Hobart City Council
  • Kentish Council
  • Kingborough Council
  • Latrobe Council
  • Sorell Council
  • Tasman Council

Victorian Local Government

  • Banyule City Council
  • Bass Coast Shire Council
  • Bayside City Council
  • Benalla Rural City Council
  • Brimbank City Council
  • Buloke Shire Council
  • Cardinia Shire Council
  • City of Boroondara
  • City of Casey
  • City of Glen Eira
  • City of Greater Geelong
  • City of Yarra
  • Frankston City Council
  • Gannawarra Shire Council
  • Greater Shepparton City Council
  • High Country Library Corporation
  • Hume City Council
  • Indigo Shire Council
  • Kingston City Council
  • Knox City Council
  • Macedon Ranges Shire Council
  • Mansfield Shire Council
  • Maribyrnong City Council
  • Melton Shire Council
  • Moreland City Council
  • Mount Alexander Shire Council
  • Moyne Shire Council
  • Nillumbik Shire Council
  • Port Phillip City Council
  • Shire of Glen Eira
  • South Gippsland Shire Council
  • Surf Coast Shire Council
  • Swan Hill Rural City Council
  • Warrnambool City Council
  • Wyndham City Council

Western Australian Local Government

  • Augusta-Margaret River Shire Council
  • City of Albany
  • City of Armadale
  • City of Bayswater
  • City of Belmont
  • City of Canning
  • City of Fremantle
  • City of Gosnells
  • City of Joondalup
  • City of Kalgoorlie-Boulder
  • City of Mandurah
  • City of Melville
  • City of Nedlands
  • City of Perth
  • City of Rockingham
  • City of South Perth
  • City of Stirling
  • City of Subiaco
  • City of Swan
  • City of Wanneroo
  • East Perth Redevelopment Authority
  • Eastern Metropolitan Regional Council
  • Mindarie Regional Council
  • Serpentine Jarrahdale Shire
  • Shire of Ashburton
  • Shire of Beverley
  • Shire of Boddington
  • Shire of Bridgetown-Greenbushes
  • Shire of Brookton
  • Shire of Broome
  • Shire of Broomehill - Tambellup
  • Shire of Carnamah
  • Shire of Chapman Valley
  • Shire of Chittering
  • Shire of Collie
  • Shire of Coolgarie
  • Shire of Coorow
  • Shire of Corrigin
  • Shire of Cranbrook
  • Shire of Cue
  • Shire of Cunderdin
  • Shire of Dalwallinu
  • Shire of Dandaragan
  • Shire of Denmark
  • Shire of Derby - West Kimberley
  • Shire of Dowerin
  • Shire of Dumbleyung
  • Shire of Esperance
  • Shire of Gingin
  • Shire of Gnowangerup
  • Shire of Halls Creek
  • Shire of Irwin
  • Shire of Jerramungup
  • Shire of Joondalup
  • Shire of Kalamunda
  • Shire of Kojonup
  • Shire of Koorda
  • Shire of Kulin
  • Shire of Lake Grace
  • Shire of Laverton
  • Shire of Leonora
  • Shire of Meekatharra
  • Shire of Merredin
  • Shire of Mingenew
  • Shire of Morawa
  • Shire of Mukinbudin
  • Shire of Mullewa
  • Shire of Mundaring
  • Shire of Murray
  • Shire of Ngaanyatjarraku
  • Shire of Peppermint Grove
  • Shire of Perenjori
  • Shire of Pingelly
  • Shire of Plantagenet
  • Shire of Ravensthorpe
  • Shire of Roebourne
  • Shire of Sandstone
  • Shire of Shark Bay
  • Shire of Toodyay
  • Shire of Three Springs
  • Shire of Wagin
  • Shire of Wandering
  • Shire of Wickepin
  • Shire of Wiluna
  • Shire of Wyalkatchem
  • Shire of Wyndham - East Kimberley
  • Shire of Yalgoo
  • Southern Metropolitan Regional Council
  • Town of Bassendean
  • Town of Claremont
  • Town of Cottesloe
  • Town of Geraldton
  • Town of Kwinana
  • Town of Narrogin
  • Town of Northam
  • Town of Port Hedland
  • Town of Victoria Park
  • Town of Vincent

ACT Government

  • Whole of Government licence

Northern Territory Local Government

  • Alice Springs Town Council
  • City of Palmerston
  • Darwin City Council

Overseas councils

  • Auckland City Council (New Zealand)
  • Christchurch City Council (New Zealand)
  • City of Ottawa Archives (Canada)
  • North Shore City Council (New Zealand)
  • Papakura District Council (New Zealand)
  • Porirua City Council (New Zealand)
  • Shire of Christmas Island
  • Shire of Cocos (Keeling) Islands
  • Timaru District Council (New Zealand)
  • Waikato District Council
  • Waitakere City Council (New Zealand)
  • Wanganui District Council (New Zealand)

Other organisations

  • Australian Local Government Association
  • NSW Local Government and Shires Association