Archives In Brief 78 - Access to records relating to Aboriginal people
- Records relating to Aboriginal people
- Public access to State records
- How to access records open to public access
- How to access records closed to public access
- Note on the content of some records
- Help in accessing records
- Records relating to Aboriginal people held outside of NSW
State Records holds a significant number of records as State archives that document the governments' dealings with Aboriginal people from 1788 until today. The records were mainly created by public servants including those at stations and by reserve managers.
Unfortunately not all records have survived and many are incomplete due to destruction and loss. See Archives in Brief 25 for more information about what type of records we hold that relate to Aboriginal people.
Most State records are open to public access once they are 30 years old. For example, records of Aboriginal schools are open to public access after 30 years. See Archives in Brief 44 for more information on school records.
Records that contain sensitive information, however, are closed for a longer period. For example the ward registers of the Aborigines Welfare Board are closed from public access for 100 years.
State Records maintains the Register of Access Directions that lists what records are open after 30 years and what records are closed and for how long.
You can learn more about public access to State records in Archives In Brief 9: Your rights of access to State records. If you are unsure what records are open or closed to public access our staff can help you.
The Western Sydney Records Centre (WSRC) is located at Kingswood. All original records (uncopied records) are held at WSRC.
To access original records you will need a reader's ticket. To obtain a reader's ticket you must show two forms identification to confirm your name, address and signature.
How to access closed records of the former Aborigines Welfare Board
Aboriginal Affairs NSW (AANSW) is the government agency responsible for the records of the former Aborigines Welfare Board. To access closed records you will need to contact the Family Records Unit. AANSW are also responsible for assessing access to records for non-family research. The website provides details of their services and copies of application forms.
AANSW will check indexes to identify if there any records relating to your request.
If there are any records, and they approve your application, AANSW will either send you copies of the records or send you a letter authorising access and/or copying of the relevant records at State Records.
The website at www.daa.nsw.gov.au/familyhistory/ provides details of their services and copies of application forms.
Family History Unit
Aboriginal Affairs NSW
Level 13, Tower B, Centennial Plaza
280 Elizabeth Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010
Ph: (02) 9219 0700
Fax: (02) 9219 0790
AANSW will check indexes to identify if there any records relating to your request. If there are and they approve your application the AANSW will either send you copies of the records or send you a letter authorising access and/or copying of the relevant records at State Records.
How to view AANSW records
If you receive a letter you will need to present the letter authorising you to view the records when you visit State Records. If you are viewing original records you will also need to apply for readers' ticket. You will need to supply two forms of identification to obtain a readers' ticket.
Researchers should be aware that the records may contain language, descriptions and opinions which reflect the author's attitude or that of the period in which the records were written. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people may consider some of the records to be inappropriate and offensive.
Link-Up (NSW) Aboriginal Corporation was founded around 1980 to assist all Aboriginal people who have been fostered, adopted or raised in institutions to reconnect with their family.
Link-Up NSW Aboriginal Corporation contact details
Aboriginal name indexes available online
The following Aboriginal name indexes may be useful in identifying material for Aboriginal family history.
State Library of NSW - Australian Indigenous services
The State Library of NSW has an index to material held at the State Library relating to Aboriginal people called InfoKoori.
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS) has an Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Biographical Index (ABI) available to search online. The ABI is a personal name index to published material held in the AIATSIS Library.
Australian Capital Territory | Northern Territory | Queensland | South Australia | Tasmania | Victoria | Western Australia | State Records Office of Western Australia | Department of Indigenous Affairs
National Archives of Australia
Bringing Them Home Name Index enquiries
PO Box 7425, Canberra BC ACT 2610
Telephone: (02) 6212 3900
Freecall: 1300 886 881
Fax: 1300 886 882 or (02) 6212 3999
Australian Institute of Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS)
Family History Unit
GPO Box 553, Canberra ACT 2601
Freecall: 1800 730 129
Fax: (02) 6261 4287
Australian War Memorial
GPO Box 345, Canberra ACT 2601
Telephone: (02) 6243 4211
Fax: (02) 6243 4325
Noel Butlin Archives Centre
ANU Archives Program, Division of Information
Building 2, Menzies Library
Australian National University
Canberra ACT 0200
Telephone: (02) 6125 2219
Fax: (02) 6125 0140
Department of Communities and Personal Histories
PO Box 15397, Brisbane City East QLD 4001
Telephone: (07) 3404 3622
Freecall: 1800 650 230
State Records of South Australia
Aboriginal Access Team
GPO Box 1072, Adelaide SA 5001
Telephone: (08) 8343 6820 or (08) 8204 8798
Fax: (08) 8204 8777
Public Records Office Victoria
Koori Records Unit
Victorian Archives Centre
PO Box 2100, North Melbourne VIC 3051
Telephone: (03) 9348 5600
Freecall: 1800 657 452
Fax: (03) 9348 5656
Family Information Records Bureau
Family and Children's Services
189 Royal St, East Perth WA 6004
Telephone: (08) 9222 2777
Freecall: 1800 000 277
Fax: (08) 9222 2767
Aboriginal Family History
Alexander Library Building
James St West Entrance
Perth Cultural Centre, Perth WA 6000
Telephone: (08) 9427 3360
Fax: (08) 9427 3368
Aboriginal Family History Information Services
Level 1, 197 George's Tce, Perth WA 6000
Telephone: (08) 9235 8075
Fax: (08) 9235 8022
For more information on State Records relating to Aboriginal people please contact the Manager, Public Access on (02) 9673 1788 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
© State of New South Wales through the State Records Authority, 2003.
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