Films by and about the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation

The National Archives collection includes more than 200 surveillance and training films created or collected by the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO).

ASIO began recording the surveillance films for different purposes in 1949. The films include surveillance footage of events such as:

  • national congresses and committee meetings of the Communist Party of Australia
  • meetings of the Eureka Youth League and the New Theatre League
  • May Day and Labour Day marches
  • demonstrations such as the Hands Off Cuba demonstration in 1962
  • Australia Soviet Friendship Society congresses
  • trade union meetings
  • funerals
  • the founding conference of the Revolutionary Socialist Alliance
  • meetings of the Waterside Workers Federation

The films also include surveillance of individuals at various locations.

Most of the surveillance films date from the 1950s and early 1960s. However, there are also some surveillance films from the late 1960s and early 1970s of anti-Vietnam War demonstrations.

The training films are British government productions dating from the 1960s, and were provided to assist with the security education and training of the public services. These films deal with subjects such as protective security, physical and document security, the social approach to the recruitment of spies and blackmail attempts.

Formats

The original records are mostly 16mm motion picture film components. There are also some VHS videotapes.

Accessing these records

The following table identifies the series containing ASIO surveillance films. The links in the table will take you to the National Archives collection database RecordSearch for more information.

In RecordSearch you can browse a list of films in each series by clicking on the 'Find items in this series' button. To see the films themselves you will need to visit the relevant National Archives office.

You can search for specific film titles or topics in RecordSearch by using keywords, or by using a combination of keywords and reference numbers. For example, a search for the keyword ‘communist’ together with the reference number ‘A8703’ will return 28 surveillance films relating to the Australian Communist Party.

ASIO film series

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2017