Archiving Australian Government agency websites

Australian Government websites are Commonwealth records and should be considered as a publication which must be managed in accordance with the Archives Act 1983.

The creation and maintenance of authentic, reliable, accurate and durable evidence of web-based activity is essential if agencies are to retain corporate memory, meet legal obligations and deliver on community expectations.

Capturing Agency Websites

To meet the requirements of the disposal class under the general records authority, an 'exported representation' (export) of these websites is required. An export shows an example of your agency's online presence, rather than capturing the complete functionality of the website. It should include contextual metadata and supporting business rules, but does not need to include material that is covered separately in another records authority.

The National Library of Australia's Australian Government Web Archive (AGWA) captures Australian Government websites. The AGWA website capture meets the Archives preservation and retention requirements for websites as 'retain as national archives' (RNA) material.

Agencies should regularly check the AGWA site to ensure adequate capture of your agency web pages. Attachments such as videos, PDF and DOCX files are not always captured and may need to be managed in isolation to the AGWA process and as part of your internal information management practices.

If the AGWA harvest is successful, then the Commonwealth requirements for archiving are fulfilled. There is no need to transfer the website information to the Archives.

If your agency's website is not included in the AGWA, you should advise the National Library's web archive team so they can include it in future harvests.

The National Library does not provide copies of websites preserved in AGWA on request. If you need to make a copy of your agency's retired website for business purposes, or to fulfill retention requirements, you need to capture it separately.

Agencies can also capture their website using open source HT Track, or similar software, ensuring all material is visible offline. This may be useful for social media content published on behalf of the agency. You may need to contact your ICT area to ensure that local HTML files work properly. See also Managing Social Media.

Content covered in records authorities

Published content which is covered by a records authority must be captured in an approved system for managing your agency's information, for example an EDRMS, so that it can be managed and sentenced appropriately. Such material may include:

  • Publications that are produced and published as attachments on your agency's public website
  • Publications that are produced only in digital format on your agency's public website and/or
  • Databases or datasets accessible through your agency's website.

The records authority coverage and disposal action for specific content (e.g. policies, speeches etc) should take precedence over website content management.

Decommissioning Websites

If your agency's website is being decommissioned, or undergoing major change, you must ensure the AGWA process has adequately captured the website before decommissioning.

If AGWA is not going to capture the website before a major update or decommissioning, a copy of the website should be captured using open source software and managed in accordance with material covered by a records authority.

Additional Reference – Archiving websites: Advice and Policy Statement (pdf, 58kb)

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019