National Archives of Australia Corporate Plan 2016-17 to 2019-20

Director-General's foreword

This is a time of innovation and transformation for the National Archives. We are responding to the challenges of the digital environment and embracing the opportunities it presents to improve our business processes and service delivery. To this end we have developed a Digital Transformation Plan that will guide us over the next four years.

At the same time we will continue to ensure the appropriate storage and preservation of analogue-format documents and audiovisual records, and continue to make more of these records available through digital channels.

In line with government and public expectations, we will seek to exploit emerging technologies to improve service delivery and maximise the public’s engagement with the national archival collection.

We will also exploit advancing technologies to save as much of our obsolete or deteriorating audiovisual records through digitisation as our resources allow. The content of these records is irreplaceable cultural heritage that may well be inaccessible beyond 2025 unless we intervene with a program of digital preservation.

The Archives plays a critical role with respect to the management of information across the Commonwealth. We will demonstrate leadership, providing direction and establishing standards for the creation and handling of information, particularly in effective management of digital information through the Digital Continuity 2020 policy.

Our existing outcome framework, business activities and priorities will be regularly reviewed to ensure alignment with relevant Australian Public Service reforms. The Archives will look for new opportunities to improve our governance and business operations – the way we work and deliver our services – so that we operate more effectively, particularly within a tight financial environment.

A highlight of the year ahead will undoubtedly be the relocation of our Canberra-based collection and some of our operations to the custom-designed National Archives Preservation Facility in Mitchell, ACT, which will provide a contemporary facility for the storage and preservation of records and for our staff.

David Fricker's Signature

David Fricker


I, David Fricker, as the accountable authority of the National Archives of Australia (the Archives) present the four-year Archives Corporate Plan commencing in 2016–17 for the period 2016–17 to 2019–20, as required under section 35(1)(b) of the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Act 2013. The plan is prepared in accordance with the Public Governance, Performance and Accountability Rule 2014.

David Fricker's Signature

David Fricker

Archives purposes

The purpose of the Archives is established by the Archives Act 1983, which identifies our key roles and responsibilities. In particular, the objects of the Archives Act are:

  1. to provide for a National Archives of Australia, whose functions include:
    1. identifying the archival resources of the Commonwealth; and
    2. preserving and making publicly available the archival resources of the Commonwealth; and
    3. overseeing Commonwealth record-keeping, by determining standards and providing advice to Commonwealth institutions; and
  2. to impose record-keeping obligations in respect of Commonwealth records.

The Archives has four purposes, to:

  1. identify, secure and manage the archival resources of the Commonwealth
  2. promote, interpret and make available the archival resources of the Commonwealth
  3. provide leadership on information management to the Australian Government
  4. maintain and enhance Australia's involvement with the international archival community.

The relationship between these purposes and the outcome statement and program in the Archives' Portfolio Budget Statements 2016–17 is shown below.

PBS outcomePBS programsArchives purposes
To promote the creation, management and preservation of authentic, reliable and usable Commonwealth records and facilitate Australians’ access to the archival resources of the CommonwealthIdentifying and protecting records of national archival value by transferring them from entities to appropriate custody for secure storage, description and preservation to support continued use by the Australian Government and the publicIdentify, secure and manage the archival resources of the Commonwealth
Providing access to, promoting and interpreting the collectionPromote, interpret and make available the archival resources of the Commonwealth
Guiding entities in building their digital records and information management capability to better equip them to manage their business requirements and meet their obligations under the Archives Act 1983 in an appropriate, contemporary and cost-effective wayProvide information management leadership to the Australian Government
Developing archival initiatives that will strengthen Australia's ties with other countriesMaintain and enhance Australia's involvement with the international archival community

Purpose: Identify, secure and manage the archival resources of the Commonwealth

The records and information produced by government represent an invaluable resource for present and future Australians. The effective identification of significant records and their long-term preservation for future access is critical to ensuring the benefits of this resource can be realised.


  • In consultation with entities identify records of enduring national significance for the national archival collection and transfer them to the Archives
  • Determine how long Australian Government entities should retain other records
  • Preserve the archival resources of the Commonwealth

Delivery strategies

  • Work with entities to identify and determine information to be retained for their business needs, the rights and entitlements of the Australian people, collective memory of the nation and as the essential evidence of government
  • Plan and manage the efficient transfer and preservation of records and metadata from entities
  • Complete the delivery of the Archives' building program
  • Continue the digitisation of the collection
  • Continue a phased approach to the development of a business solution that will effectively manage digital archival material from its creation in entities to meaningful access by the public, including through engagement with industry
  • Modernise the Archives' legislative framework through review and reform of the Archives Act 1983
  • Work to improve technical infrastructure and explore digital storage options, including cloud technologies

Performance: 2016–17

  • Records of archival value are identified and preserved for access into the future
  • Increased classified and digital information storage capacity and improved preservation facilities in Canberra
  • Relocation of 15 million records to the custom-built National Archives Preservation Facility
  • Increased percentage of the total collection controlled at item level through more efficient and innovative processes
  • 150,000 at-risk items in the national archival collection provided preservation treatment
  • Enactment of legislative change to the Archives Act 1983
  • Report on options for digital storage, including the cloud

Performance: four-year outlook

Over the period 2017–20 the Archives will continue to identify and preserve records of archival value and increase the percentage of the total collection described at item level. It will complete the delivery of its building program thereby securing its capacity to transfer records in Canberra to 2031. It will work towards achieving reduced physical storage costs through implementation of the Digitise and Dispose Policy, and expand capacity for preservation and archiving of digital information including documents, objects and audiovisual records.

By 2020, 36 per cent of the total collection will be described at item level.

At-risk items provided with preservation treatment in accordance with the National Preservation Strategy and Plan200,000200,000200,000

Purpose: Promote, interpret and make available the archival resources of the Commonwealth

The records and information managed by the Archives form the collective memory of the nation. They are valued and accessed by a wide range of users – including government, researchers, historians and members of the public – to gain a greater understanding and knowledge of Australia's heritage, democracy and place in the world. The Archives has a key role in promoting awareness of this resource, and interpreting it to increase understanding of the actions and decisions of government that have shaped Australia.


  • Provide access to the records that we hold in accordance with the Archives Act
  • Promote understanding and appreciation of the national archival collection
  • Enable entities to access the records of their business that we hold in accordance with the Archives Act

Delivery strategies

  • Facilitate access to and research of the collection through our online services and reading rooms
  • Enhance the public's knowledge of the collection by delivering and actively promoting strategic and innovative public programs and services through our education and outreach programs, exhibitions, publications and promotional events
  • Improve service delivery through the innovative use of technology to maximise access to, and the public's engagement with, the collection
  • Implement a new National Reference Service strategy with a digital delivery focus and revised service level standards
  • Develop the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander strategy for access to the evidence and memory of Australia's First Peoples
  • Facilitate access by Australian Government entities to records digitally, on their premises or in our reading rooms

Performance: 2016–17

  • Improved functionality and interactivity for the Destination: Australia website, supporting the outreach immigration program – comprising national travelling exhibitions A Place to Call Home? Migrant hostel memories and A Ticket to Paradise?
  • Improved user-centric corporate website design, with enhanced search capability to access high-use records
  • Access and reference services and programs meet the needs of users with targets of:
    • 1.5 million additional record pages digitised and made available online
    • 11.5 million records accessed online
    • 5.2 million visitors to the Archives' online and onsite programs and services
  • Increased awareness of the value of the Archives' collection and understanding of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, culture and history
  • Efficient, streamlined services available for government entities to access records
  • Continued transition of National Reference Service to digital delivery

Performance: four-year outlook

Over the period 2017–20 the Archives will seek to increase and enhance its interaction with the public, particularly by online means and increasing the number of records digitised and accessed. Delivery of the outreach immigration program will continue through to 2019.

Innovative national travelling exhibitions focussing on the war service of Indigenous Australians and the history of Australia's intelligence agencies will be added to the outreach program from 2017 to 2020.

Additional record pages digitised and made available online in accordance with the National Digitisation Strategy and Plan2 million2 million2 million

Purpose: Provide leadership on information management to the Australian Government

The Archives provides leadership and direction on information and records management in the Australian Government to achieve sound governance and effective administration, and ensure that future archival resources are readily identifiable and accessible.


  • Promote the creation, management and preservation of authentic, reliable and usable Commonwealth records
  • Help entities meet their information and records management responsibilities
  • Move entities to digital information and records management

Delivery strategies

  • Develop standards, policies, guidance, training and services to assist entities adopt good information and records management practices
  • Guide entities on the management of digital information by developing advice, tools and guidance to support implementation of the Digital Continuity 2020 policy, which aims to support efficiency, innovation, interoperability, information re-use and accountability
  • Report annually to the Minister on entities' transition to digital information and records management

Performance: 2016–17

  • Develop guidance and advise entities that new business systems they procure after 31 December 2016 must meet minimum metadata standards
  • Develop guidance and advice to support entities to implement an information governance framework that supports good information and records management
  • Develop guidance and raise awareness such that entities identify high-value and long-term information assets, evaluate their risk and management requirements, and implement strategies
  • Commence development of a new survey reporting tool to assess entities' progress towards Digital Continuity 2020 targets and set clear direction for improved digital practices
  • 95 per cent of entities participate in annual survey reporting requirements by 31 December 2016
  • 75 per cent of entities engage with information management training, events and services
  • Annual report to the Minister outlines progress towards digital transition made by entities and the support provided by the Archives, and identifies additional support needed to further drive improvement

Performance: four-year outlook

Over the period 2017–20 the Archives will continue to assist entities implement the Digital Continuity 2020 policy to achieve progressive targets that support efficiency, innovation, interoperability, information re-use and accountability. The aim is that 90 per cent of entities manage information digitally by default by 2020. In 2017 the Archives will report on entity transition to digital information and records management to the Prime Minister.

Purpose: Maintain and enhance Australia's involvement with the national and international archival community

The Archives' engagement with the international archives community is consistent with Australian Government policies relating to foreign relations and digital business. Collaborative relationships allow the Archives to deliver more efficient outcomes for the Australian Government and contribute to public diplomacy and the effectiveness of Official Development Assistance through improved accountability. It is also essential for the Archives to have access to and adopt international best practice in, fields such as information policy, document preservation and digital archives management.


  • Promote strategic engagement with key national and international stakeholders
  • Invest in the ongoing development of professional staff to sustain Australia's pre-eminence in the international archival community

Delivery strategies

  • Continue to explore engagement with state and territory archival organisations in the efficient delivery of services and effective policies.
  • Promote strategic engagement and knowledge transfer with national and international archival organisations
  • Promote the role of information and records management in achieving accountable, efficient and effective government
  • Provide leadership within Australia and contribute to the development of international standards on behalf of the Australian Government
  • Develop professional staff through supported participation in collaborative professional forums

Performance: 2016–17

  • Enhanced engagement within the Indo-Pacific region though bilateral programs with Fiji, Tonga and Indonesia
  • Enhanced engagement with other regions through bilateral programs with France, Japan and Canada
  • Strategic leadership within the Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities and the Pacific Regional Branch of the International Council on Archives
  • Active contribution to the international archival community through professional forums, including the International Council on Archives, UNESCO's Memory of the World Programme, South East Asia-Pacific Audiovisual Archive Association, and International Conference on Digital Preservation

Performance: four-year outlook

The Archives will continue to build capacity in information and records management and archival management in the Pacific region, and advocate for the benefits of information management in the context of sustainable development in all world regions. Tools developed by the Archives for use in the Australian Government context will be adapted and adopted in other jurisdictions for improved public-sector information management capability.


The Archives is in the information business; every aspect of its operations is undergoing profound change as a result of the ‘digital disruption'.

For the Archives this means having the capacity to continue to preserve and manage its existing analogue collection (paper, photographic, film and audiovisual), as well as the analogue records still to be transferred from entities, while adapting our systems and processes to accommodate records and information created in digital formats. Similarly, all of our services to entities and the public must transition to a digital-by-default setting to take every advantage of new and emerging technology.

Under the Digital Continuity 2020 policy, all born-digital records created by entities from 1 January 2016 must be managed digitally, and transferred to the Archives in digital format. While we will continue to receive records in analogue format for some years to come, the Archives must have the capability to ingest, store, preserve and provide access to increasing numbers of born-digital records.

Entities will continue to expect the Archives to provide leadership and direction on managing records, but this means increasingly dealing with digital information. The Digital Continuity 2020 policy was developed by the Archives to address this requirement, and its staged implementation will require the Archives to monitor and guide entities over the next four years.

Government policy and community expectations create an environment in which more services are to be delivered more quickly through online platforms. As with all other entities this will require us to transform and accelerate our service channels, making more and more records readily searchable and deliverable digitally.

The Archives' legislative framework has not been substantially altered since its establishment in the early 1980s. In response to increasing public expectations and demand, the Archives has developed proposed amendments to the Archives Act 1983 to modernise service standards and provide more equitable access to the collection.

Governments and the public also expect the Archives to preserve our cultural, scientific and political heritage captured in records in the collection. Without preservation activities, including digitisation, many historical records will disappear. In recognition that by 2025 only about 30 per cent of magnetic tape formats will have survived, the Archives is working collaboratively with other cultural institutions to preserve as much of its at-risk magnetic tape collection as current resources allow.

The Archives will also have to consider the services it delivers and develop innovative ways of operating with a constrained fiscal environment forecast over the next four years. The delivery strategies outlined in this Corporate Plan reflect the challenges of adapting to change.


Workforce capability

The Archives' capability framework and strategic workforce plan will provide support in a dynamic, rapidly changing and demanding public service driven by technological advancement, changing demographics and service delivery reform.

The Archives' workforce will be:

  • professional – qualified, principled, experienced, contemporary and ethical
  • capable – informed, innovative and possessing skills and knowledge relevant to operational and policy areas
  • flexible – adaptable, responsive, intelligent, embracing change and resilient
  • innovative – creative, proactive and solutions based
  • engaged – committed, involved, empowered and taking pride in the delivery of work
  • collaborative – cooperative, participative and agile across work teams.

We will continue to review the Archives' organisational structure and re-engineer our traditional roles to provide a workforce that ensures we meet our outcome and support e-government and the digital environment. This will also ensure that we seek to increase efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of our outcome to the government and public in an environment that is forecast to remain fiscally tight.

The Archives' workforce capability framework

Knows the National ArchivesKnowledge of the people, processes, technology and frameworks that are essential for working successfully in the Archives and the broader Australian Government context
Drives for resultsA strong commitment to make things happen, to set and achieve goals, and a determination to find ways to deliver positive outcomes for the Archives' visitors and stakeholders
Flexible thinkingThe ability to respond flexibly to situations, issues and challenges
Self-confidenceAn inner confidence in your own capability, and the dedication to find effective ways to overcome obstacles to achieve the best outcomes for the Archives
Collaborative workingBeing committed to working and engaging constructively with others
Leadership capability
Strategic insightThe capacity to identify shifts or key trends in the environment, integrating complex issues and new concepts in order to ensure the strategic positioning of the Archives
Builds organisational capabilityThe ability to build the Archives' organisational capability (processes, systems and people) to meet the goals and challenges of the future
Leading people through changeCommunicating the vision and rationale for change, and engaging and facilitating others to work collaboratively to achieve lasting change

Digital transformation

To guide its digital development up to 2020, the Archives will develop and implement a Digital Transformation Plan. The plan will guide the Archives as it defines its role in the digital future, capitalising on its intellectual property and establishing a digital culture, leadership and workforce by enhancing the Archives' leadership capability at all levels and empowering creativity, innovation and decision-making. The objectives of the plan are to ensure that for all outcomes, outputs and services the Archives' default position is digital, supported by appropriate processes and technology.

In preparing for the digital future the Archives will undertake functional reviews to ensure it is committing its efforts to the right things and in the right way.

The success of the Archives' digital transformation is dependent on it being highly effective and efficient in the delivery of today's outputs and services, and adopting a digital-first operating model underpinned by a philosophy of innovation, creativity, partnering, and rapid design and implementation.

Risk oversight and management

Risk management is an integral part of the Archives' business planning processes. All strategic priorities and operational pathways have a risk component that is considered throughout planning, development and delivery phases to support the achievement of our key business objectives.

The Archives' Risk Management Framework and Policy sets out the intention and direction in which the Archives approaches and manages risk. It is intended to provide the overarching framework for dealing with the entire risk spectrum to which the Archives is exposed, including specific risks, strategic risks, operational risks and business continuity risks.

This Risk Management Framework and Policy adheres to the Australian/New Zealand Standard International Standardisation Organisation (AS/NZS ISO) 31000:2009 Risk Management: principles and guidelines, and applies to all Archives employees, contractors and temporary workers including volunteers.

The Archives aims to strengthen its understanding of risk in its business operations by improving the visibility and accountability of managing risk towards the achievement of its strategic priorities. Ensuring cyclic, structured and consistent business planning practices will facilitate risks to be better managed across significant investments, projects and major changes affecting the organisation.

Business plans and risk registers are regularly reviewed and reported on to project boards, senior management and the Archives' Audit and Risk Committee.

The Archives' risk attitude is for all employees to be risk aware, not risk averse. With the Risk Management Framework in place and maintained, the Archives is prepared to tolerate a degree of both operational and strategic-type risks through effective and efficient controls.

The Archives recognises that, in a changing environment, risks can emerge and evolve. It will work continuously to identify, monitor and manage risks that might impact on achieving its purposes.

Strategic risks and the key mitigation strategies currently identified by the Archives are shown on the next page. The key mitigation strategies are supported by a range of other measures.

The Archives is committed to achieving its Corporate Plan and strategic goals, and recognises that the factors that generate risks can also create opportunities for delivering positive results.

PurposeRiskKey mitigation strategy
All purposesStrategic development of human capital to meet future challenges.Develop a workforce plan and mobility principles to support staff
Promote, interpret and make available the archival resources of the CommonwealthInability to deliver access to recordsReview programs and activities to support the delivery of services
Inadvertent or deliberate release of classified and/or sensitive materialMonitor procedures and continue to work with entities on process improvements if necessary
Identify, secure and manage the archival resources of the CommonwealthReduced capacity and capability to ingest, preserve and describe records and to provide effective custodian facilities to enable future access to these recordsImplement a digital end-to-end process and review the National Preservation Plan
Provide leadership on information management to the Australian GovernmentFailing to identify or impose records creation and retention requirements and the minimum standards for digital government recordsDevelop whole-of-government information and records management policy and metadata standards
Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019