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The National Archives’ governance framework provides oversight and accountability for the efficient and ethical management of resources and compliance in accordance with the regulatory and legislative requirements of a public service entity.

A review of governance initiated in 2019–20 was finalised for implementation in the next financial year. The aim is to deliver governance improvements and to simplify the National Archives’ committee, project board and working group structures to clarify roles, terms of reference, decision-making processes and governance responsibility.

These reforms are better positioning the National Archives to respond to, resolve and move beyond emerging issues identified through internal and external review, the Executive Board and the National Archives Advisory Council.

Governance structure

The National Archives’ governance structure consists of six supporting governance committees that report to the Executive Board. An important objective of the committees is to provide assurance and recommendations to the Executive Board to enable risk-based decision-making consistent with the strategic direction of the National Archives.

Executive Board

The Executive Board is the principal committee advising the Director-General on matters affecting the corporate governance and operational management of the National Archives. Decisions by the Executive Board are made with the authority of the Director-General.

The members of the National Archives’ Executive Board and their responsibilities at 30 June 2020 were as follows:

  • David Fricker, Director-General – responsible for the overall management of the National Archives and the appropriate governance of its operations, programs and strategic direction.
  • Yaso Arumugam, Assistant Director-General, Information and Technology and Chief Information Officer – primarily responsible for supporting the National Archives in the achievement of its vision to be a world-leading archive in this digital age.
  • Louise Doyle, Assistant Director-General, Access and Public Engagement – responsible for providing public access to the collection through programs and services onsite, offsite and online.
  • Linda Macfarlane, acting Assistant Director-General, Government Data and Policy – oversees this newly created branch to take on the innovative work of the Digital Archives Taskforce, policy development and agency engagement.
  • Jason McGuire, acting Assistant Director-General, Corporate Services and Chief Security Officer – oversees the efficient, effective and ethical management of the National Archives’ resources in accordance with whole-of-government legislative and policy frameworks.
  • Steven Fox, Assistant Director-General, Collection Management – oversees the Collection Management branch, which ensures the authenticity, integrity and accessibility of the archival resources of the Commonwealth.

During the year, the following significant changes in the executive leadership occurred:

  • Teressa Ward, who led the Digital Archives Taskforce as Assistant Director-General, took extended leave from 18 December 2019 leading up to a planned retirement.
  • Celia Blake acted as Assistant Director-General of the Digital Archives Taskforce from 18 December 2019 until 1 June 2020.
  • Linda Macfarlane continued as Acting Assistant Director-General, Collection Management until 1 June, when she became the Acting Assistant Director-General, Government Data and Policy.
  • Steven Fox joined the National Archives on 1 June 2020 as Assistant Director-General, Collection Management.

Corporate committees

Six committees contribute to effective and accountable governance across the National Archives:




Audit and Risk Committee

Independent Chair

Mr Geoff Knuckey

Mr Knuckey was appointed to the Audit and Risk Committee in 2011. He has extensive experience as an audit committee member or chair in the public and private sectors. Mr Knuckey has been a full-time company director and audit committee member since 2009 following a 32-year career with Ernst & Young.

Qualifications: B.Economics (ANU), FCA, GAICD, registered Company Auditor

Meetings attended: 5

Total annual remuneration: $11,825

External member

Dr Margo Wade

Dr Margaret (Margo) Wade FCPA has been a member of the Audit and Risk Committee since 2015.

She has served as an independent member of numerous audit committees since 1990. Prior to her retirement in 2005, Dr Wade was a tenured member of staff at the University of Canberra.

Meetings attended: 5

Total annual remuneration: $6,000

Internal adviser

Assistant Director-General, Information and Technology / Chief Information Officer

The Audit and Risk Committee provides assurance to the accountable authority that the National Archives is meeting its legislative obligations under the PGPA Act.

The committee’s main functions are to enhance the National Archives' internal control framework and improve the objectivity and reliability of externally published financial information, risk management procedures and compliance with legislation.

The committee met four times during the year, with an additional meeting to review the annual financial statements.

Finance Committee




Assistant Director-General, Information and Technology / Chief Information Officer

Assistant Director-General, Access and Public Engagement

Assistant Director-General, Government Data and Policy

Assistant Director-General, Collection Management

Assistant Director-General, Corporate Services / Chief Security Officer

The Finance Committee oversees the financial performance of the National Archives, including financial sustainability over the forward estimates; the capital budget; new policy proposals; new initiatives, grants and sponsorships (both internal and external); and the management of the property portfolio.

The committee met 11 times during 2019–20.

Information Governance Committee




Assistant Director-General, Information and Technology / Chief Information Officer

Assistant Director-General, Access and Public Engagement

Assistant Director-General, Government Data and Policy

Assistant Director-General, Collection Management

Assistant Director-General, Corporate Services / Chief Security Officer

The Information Governance Committee is responsible for the governance of all National Archives information and data assets. The committee functions as a mechanism to maintain a consistent and systematic whole-of-agency approach to managing information. It monitors the effectiveness of the information governance framework; ensures the coordination of reporting and external audits and reviews related to information management; identifies roles and responsibilities for information assets; and monitors information infrastructure according to the National Archives’ business information needs.

The committee met quarterly to consider reports from the Chief Information Governance Officer on progress towards achieving the targets of the DC2020 Policy and to endorse policies, projects and tools for making decisions about information management, data sharing, engaging with cloud services and identifying information governance and management requirements for systems and processes.

Human Resources Management Committee




Assistant Director-General, Corporate Services / Chief Security Officer

Assistant Director-General, Access and Public Engagement

Director, People Management and Development


Chief Financial Officer

The Human Resources Management Committee is the primary people-governance committee for the National Archives. The committee’s terms of reference are to oversee the strategic people-management activities of the National Archives.

The committee met throughout the year to consider submissions on such matters as staffing establishment, professional development, workforce planning and diversity, and a range of monthly and quarterly staffing reports.

The committee met 11 times during 2019–20.

Project Assurance Committee


Clive Lines, Independent Chair


Assistant Director-General, Information and Technology / Chief Information Officer

Assistant Director-General, Corporate Services / Chief Security Officer

Regional Manager Central


Assistant Director, Corporate Governance and Risk

The Project Assurance Committee (PAC – formerly the Project Management Committee) oversees the management of significant and/or complex projects being undertaken by the National Archives. The Chair of the PAC reports directly to the Executive Board.

Projects are referred to the committee by the Executive Board based on an assessment of project complexity. Typically, projects referred to the PAC may have one of more of the following attributes:

  • a high interdependency across branches, or with external agencies or companies
  • a significant financial and reputational risk
  • a high level of complexity.

During 2019–20, the PAC met seven times and moved from meeting monthly to bi-monthly.

Workplace Relations Committee


Assistant Director-General, Corporate Services / Chief Security Officer


Four employee-elected representatives (two Canberra based and two state based)

Community and Public Sector Union representative

Management representative: Director, People Management and Development

The Workplace Relations Committee is the National Archives’ peak consultative body, consisting of management, union and elected employee representatives, to support existing decision-making processes.

The committee also functions as the National Workplace Health and Safety Committee for the National Archives, as outlined in the Work Health and Safety Management Arrangements for the purposes of the Work Health and Safety Act 2011.

Consultation between employees and management occurs at the organisational level through the committee.

The committee considers national workplace matters of significance to employees and the views of employees on workplace matters that affect them. It also monitors the operation of the National Archives' enterprise agreement.

The committee met four times during 2019–20.

Transition of the Digital Archives Taskforce

On 30 June, the Digital Archives Taskforce, which had been in place since 1 July 2018, was finalised. The taskforce’s purpose was to accelerate the National Archives’ next-generation digital transformation by developing policies and standards, identifying new digital preservation and archival management solutions, mapping digital archival capability requirements and supporting upskilling through a digital capability framework and training regime.

Outcomes of the Digital Archives Program in 2019–20 included the procurement and piloting of the Integrated Archival Management System (IAMS), with the Information and Technology branch taking the lead; delivering a training program to staff comprising a mix of face-to-face and online training; publishing an alternative archival control model for the control and management of collection material in any format; and developing the born-digital file format standard for Australian Government agencies.

A permanent section, Digital Archives Innovation and Research, within the Government Data and Policy branch, will continue the transformative work of the taskforce.

COVID-19 Task Force

On 23 March, the National Archives formed a COVID-19 Implementation Management Team and Task Force to coordinate the organisation’s response to the pandemic.

The role of the task force was to help ensure the health and safety of National Archives staff while maintaining the delivery of essential services. It comprised National Archives staff temporarily seconded from across the organisation with expertise in business continuity; people management and development; property management and security; and communications. The task force’s small size and concentration of expertise meant it could respond rapidly and appropriately to unfolding conditions.

Access to clear, timely and digestible information is crucial in times of crisis. The task force sent regular updates to all National Archives staff to keep them informed about the organisation’s response to the pandemic, including information about working arrangements, IT tools, cybersecurity, health and hygiene. It also made resources available on GovTEAMS and on the intranet. Staff could email the task force with questions via a dedicated email inbox.

As the pandemic unfolded, it became clear that stress, uncertainty and the rapid change brought about by COVID-19 had the potential to take a significant toll on mental health and wellbeing. The task force worked with the People Management and Development section to support the mental health of National Archives staff. It provided staff with a range of mental health resources, including information about the Australian Government’s free Employee Assistance Program.

From 29 April to 7 May, the task force ran a survey to gauge staff satisfaction with the National Archives’ response to the pandemic. Seventy per cent of respondents indicated that the National Archives’ response to COVID-19 overall was ‘Above average’ or ‘Excellent’.

Corporate governance

In 2019–20, the National Archives’ work program focused on enabling efficient, effective and ethical corporate governance; sound corporate and strategic business planning, reporting and policy development; accountable compliance activities; and innovative and prudent management.

Particular areas of improvement to the National Archives’ corporate governance included:

  • better enterprise and operational governance and assurance, to understand emergent issues in the current environment; ability to think ahead and take action to avoid or reduce the chances of significant negative incidents, achieved through embedding systematic risk management into business planning and reporting and audit tracking and management
  • the implementation of a new methodology to document performance measures reporting to track progress towards targets throughout the year or to identify opportunities to pursue, or issues that need addressing to improve, performance
  • strategically focused business planning guidance and policy development to better align priorities, projects and spending to meet the National Archives’ existing and emerging objectives and to mitigate risks
  • a stronger integrity focus including legal, legislative reform, freedom of information, privacy, fraud and corruption (including public interest disclosure), insurance and compliance.

Risk management

The National Archives’ risk maturity continues to grow through review and refresh of the risk management framework, including the policy, plan, guide and tools. As part of a broader governance framework review, it aims to support the consistent and systematic management of risk. Integrating risk into planning, monitoring and reporting provides a clear line of sight between the agency’s highest priorities and all other planned work, so that efforts are focused on what should be done now and in the future. Strategic risk oversight gives certainty to the Executive Board in its strategic decision-making, planning and resourcing to ensure that objectives are achievable.

In 2019–20, risk management activities included:

  • reviewing frameworks to integrate the management of risk into all key business functions, processes, systems, programs and projects
  • raising awareness and building the risk management capability of all staff
  • modelling risk management by the Executive Board and reflecting it in the agency’s culture and processes
  • making appropriate risk-based decisions – not excessively risk averse or overconfident
  • assessing the risks of priority projects, such as the World War II service records digitisation project, Integrated Archival Management System pilot, DC2020 Policy and development of the new information management policy.

Internal audit

The National Archives’ internal audit framework strengthens accountability and promotes good governance and transparency through independent and objective assurance.

The forward year audit program is drafted by contracted professional auditors in consultation with the National Archives’ Executive Board. Audits are based on strategic priorities, risk management and governance controls. The program is presented to the Audit and Risk Committee and Executive Board for approval. Responsibilities for monitoring the approved audit program and recommendations are set out in the Audit and Risk Committee Charter.

In 2019–20, internal audits were conducted and/or finalised on:

  • workforce management and planning
  • salary payments
  • financial controls
  • online public access
  • data integrity (collections)
  • the Digital Archives Program (Phase 2).

Fraud measures

The National Archives’ Fraud and Corruption Control Framework outlines the strategies, governance and procedures in place to protect against fraud and corruption-related risks to the agency’s staff, information and assets.

During 2019–20, the National Archives continued work to implement recommendations from an internal audit of the fraud control framework in April 2018. The audit recommended a refresh of the agency’s fraud control plan, the development of a new internal fraud training program and the implementation of awareness measures to improve staff understanding of fraud.

In response, a full review and redraft of a new Fraud and Corruption Control Policy, Control Plan and Guide have been completed.

The new Fraud and Corruption Control Framework includes:

  • the Fraud and Corruption Control Policy, which sets out the commitment of the National Archives to preventing, detecting and responding to fraud and corruption within the agency through effective risk management and controls
  • the Fraud and Corruption Control Plan, which outlines the key strategies to address the risk of fraud and corruption at the National Archives, including awareness, prevention, detection, response, reporting and review
  • the Fraud and Corruption Control Guide, which aims to translate the policy into actions that each staff member can take in the workplace to prevent, detect and respond to fraud and corruption.

Due to interrelationships among the Fraud and Corruption Control Policy and other polices, such as the Public Interest Disclosure and Conflict of Interest policies, work was undertaken concurrently to update the other policies to ensure consistent and cohesive messaging and practices.

Follow-up work during 2020–21 will include coordinating and implementing strategies to build fraud awareness and understanding across the organisation, including releasing and promoting the updated framework documents, delivering a suite of posters and digital messaging on fraud, and confirming fraud coverage in mandatory and induction training. Those measures will be implemented continuously and evaluated to assess their effectiveness, including through a formal review of the National Archives’ Fraud and Corruption Control Framework documentation scheduled for 2022.

In 2019–20, no instance of fraud was reported via the National Archives’ fraud reporting telephone and email hotlines or through written correspondence to the Fraud Control Officer.

Information governance

The National Archives’ information and data governance framework affirms the commitment to effective governance and management for all information and data assets; clearly defines the standards, expectations and responsibilities for managing information and data; and ensures that the National Archives’ information and data management practices meet legal obligations, accountability requirements, business needs and stakeholders’ expectations.

In 2019–20, the National Archives continued to strengthen its information governance framework, policies and processes. This work was led by the Chief Information Governance Officer.

The National Archives achieved the DC2020 Policy requirements for 2019–20 through:

  • converting any remaining analogue approval processes to digital
  • assessing the agency’s operational fitness for data interoperability
  • identifying and managing all digital assets.

Ethical standards

In the 2019 APS Employee Census, 93 per cent of Archives employees indicated that colleagues in their immediate work group acted in accordance with the APS Values in their everyday work – an increase from 90 per cent in 2018. Also, 91 per cent of employees indicated that their supervisor acted in accordance with the APS Values in their everyday work, compared to 92 per cent in 2018. This data reflects the National Archives’ continuing commitment to creating and promoting a workplace with high ethical standards.

In 2019–20, the Commonwealth Resource Management Framework online training course was made mandatory for all employees, ensuring full understanding of their responsibilities under the PGPA Act.

During the year, one public interest disclosure was received; it was yet to be finalised at 30 June 2020.

During 2019–20, no breaches of the APS Code of Conduct were determined. There were no requests to review a human resource decision, and no appeals to external authorities were made.

Freedom of information

In 2019–20, the National Archives received 14 freedom of information (FOI) requests. The results of those requests were as follows:

  • Six decisions were finalised within the required time frame, granting access in full or part.
  • Two decisions were finalised within the required time frame, refusing access.
  • One request was withdrawn.
  • Five requests were still being processed at the end of the financial year.

Information Publication Scheme

Entities subject to the Freedom of Information Act 1982 (FOI Act) are required to publish information to the public as part of the Information Publication Scheme (IPS). This requirement is in Part II of the FOI Act and has replaced the former requirement to publish a section 8 statement in an annual report. Each entity must display on its website a plan showing what information it publishes in accordance with the IPS requirements.

The National Archives complies with the requirement to publish information to the public as part of the IPS. A plan outlining what information is published in accordance with the IPS requirements can be found on the National Archives’ website.


In 2019–20, the National Archives received and finalised two written privacy complaints. Neither involved data breaches that required notification to the Privacy Commissioner.

Multicultural access and equity

The National Archives continues to develop and deliver programs that contribute to a shared understanding and appreciation of Australia’s diverse heritage. The agency also strives to make programs and services accessible to all Australians regardless of their cultural and linguistic background.

A plan of initiatives devised to increase multicultural access and equity over the 2019–21 period focuses on staff awareness of cultural diversity; exhibitions; projects featuring shared documentary history with partner countries; and writing all information in plain English. Initiatives during the year included a focus on exhibitions, the development of which will continue after a post-COVID-19 return to business as usual.

Achievements in 2019–20 included:

  • the redesign of the National Archives’ website, including an emphasis on accessible plain English
  • an internal newsletter promoting awareness of the multicultural and linguistic diversity of staff at the National Archives
  • further promoting the internal register of staff language skills to support interactions with external clients, and updating the register by adding the relevant skills of new staff.

Recognising and respecting First Nations heritage

International Year of Indigenous Languages

On 25 November 2019, new signage displaying the Ngambri-Ngunnawal word murrulangalang was unveiled on the National Archives’ newly reopened National Office building in Parkes.

As a sign of respect for Indigenous Australian languages in the International Year of Indigenous Languages, the agency collaborated with Ngambri-Ngunnawal language custodian Paul House to find the right word for the dual-language signage.

Murrulangalang means caves or rock shelters located in the Canberra region that contain hand stencils – important places that hold the cultural knowledge, information and records of generations of Ngunnawal and Ngambri. The name is reflective of the role entrusted to the National Archives in keeping the nation’s most significant records safe, transmitting memory from one generation to the next.

A Welcome to Country and traditional smoking ceremony to mark the occasion was led by Mr House and attended by 80 guests, including the Minister for Indigenous Australians the Hon Ken Wyatt, AM MP.

A group of Murawari elders from north-west New South Wales were the very first visitors to enter the renovated Research Centre, where they viewed the World War II service records of people from their community.

Indigenous Matters Summit and Tandanya Adelaide Declaration

The National Archives and International Council on Archives (ICA) held the inaugural Indigenous Matters Summit on 25 October 2019. See Us, Hear Us, Walk with Us: challenging and decolonising the archive was led by the ICA’s Expert Group on Indigenous Matters (EGIM) and was held at the Tandanya National Aboriginal Cultural Institute in Adelaide.

The summit brought together Indigenous communities, archivists, record-keepers, librarians, curators and community organisations from around the world to identify and discuss key issues facing Indigenous peoples and archives today.

At its conclusion, the EGIM presented the Tandanya Adelaide Declaration – the first international archives declaration on Indigenous peoples and matters, signed by all summit attendees. National Archives Director-General David Fricker, as President of the ICA, accepted the declaration, which calls for the jurisdictional archives of the world to acknowledge and adopt themes and commitments of the declaration for immediate action:

  • to embrace Indigenous worldviews and methods of creating, sharing and preserving valued knowledge
  • to decolonise archival principles with Indigenous knowledge methods
  • to open the meaning of public archives to Indigenous interpretations
  • to bring new dynamics of spirituality, ecology and Indigenous philosophy into the European traditions of archival memory
  • to support fair and healing remembrance of colonial encounters.

As a signatory, the National Archives has committed to the Tandanya Adelaide Declaration. The organisation’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy already includes focus areas relating to the agreement, such as the right of reply; respectful engagement; and promotion of respectful and ethical relationships between archival institutions and Indigenous communities in recognising the diversity of social meanings embodied in archival materials and the knowledge models that interpret them. Forward years will include additional commitments to action in alignment with the declaration.

'Innovate' Reconciliation Action Plan

Progressing to an ‘Innovate’ Reconciliation Action Plan (RAP) remains a high priority for the National Archives. Unfortunately, the effects of COVID-19 along with internal governance changes adversely affected our ability to finalise our first ‘Innovate’ RAP during 2019–20. Work will continue with the aim of finalising the RAP within the first half of 2020–21.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Services

The Northern Territory Aboriginal Advisory Group (AAG), advises and assists the National Archives in providing access to records in the national collection for the purposes of re-establishing family and community links. It met only twice during 2019–20 due to COVID-19 restrictions. The National Archives’ Director-General met with the AAG at its November 2019 meeting in Alice Springs. The group discussed the use of the Bringing Them Home name index and the 2019–20 priorities of the National Archives’ Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Strategy and Implementation Plan (including a new three-year Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Engagement Plan), and reviewed the AAG’s operating guidelines. Updates were provided on the Indigenous Matters Summit, Tandanya Adelaide Declaration and dual-language signage on the National Office building. The AAG responded positively and supported the National Archives’ priorities and updates.

In 2019–20, the second progress report of the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Implementation Plan 2017–18 to 2020–21 was produced for the 2018–19 reporting period against identified commitments for key targets. The National Archives achieved 26 of 59 targets, including records authorities coverage of PGPA Act entities with Indigenous functions, the completion of an internal guide to assist in managing identified cultural sensitivities involving records being examined for public access, and meeting all requests for Bringing Them Home name index and memorandum of understanding applications. Thirty-three commitments were carried forward to the 2019–20 or 2020–21 reporting periods.

In May 2020, two further key priorities from the 2019–20 plan were completed: a review of the Northern Territory Aboriginal Advisory Group Guidelines, with comments from the AAG; and the Use of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Cultural Sensitivity Warnings guidelines for staff. The guidelines outline which cultural sensitivities to be aware of, including the types of material, terms and language; explain why warnings are important; and indicate when to use a warning.

CAARA First Nations Working Group

The Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities (CAARA) First Nations Working Group was formed in June 2020. With National Archives representation, the working group is set to make meaningful and practical contributions to setting and guiding best practice principles for Indigenous-related archives and the promotion of Indigenous history and heritage across Australia and New Zealand. Future projects of the group will include CAARA’s contribution to addressing commitments of the Tandanya Adelaide Declaration.