Australia's audio-visual archive gets AU$42m from Canberra to preserve at-risk collection

Around 240,000 known audio‑visual collection items are expected to be digitised and preserved by Australia's National Film and Sound Archive.

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Image: National Library Australia

The Australian government said it will hand more than AU$47 million to digitise and preserve at risk archive material held by the National Film and Sound Archive (NFSA), and seven other national collecting institutions, and to maintain the National Library of Australia's (NLA) Trove website.

Of the total, NFSA will receive AU$41.9 million over four years to digitise and store audio-visual collection material held across eight national collecting institutions, and AU$5.7 million over two years will be used to support and enhance the NLA's trove website to 30 June 2023.

The NLA launched a revamped version of its online culture and research portal Trove last year, following a four-year modernisation and digitisation project that received AU$16 million in backing from the federal government.

Around 240,000 known audio‑visual collection items will be digitised and preserved under the program. This will include material such as the Australian War Memorial's peacekeeping collection, the NFSA home movie collection depicting Australian life throughout the 20th Century, the personal recordings and film of Sir Robert Menzies held by the NLA, and important cultural material held by the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies.

"As Australia's audio‑visual archive, the NFSA has more than three million items in its collection, including a significant number of film, video, and sound recordings in analogue formats," Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said.

"This funding will protect important elements of Australia's audio‑visual history from being permanently lost due to material deterioration.

"This is critical to preserving our identity and heritage, increasing the public's access and ensuring the archives are available to future generations."

The cash injection is part of an overall AU$67.7 million commitment the federal government made in June to help the National Archives of Australia further preserve the Commonwealth's aging records, as well as to invest in cybersecurity, an area Archives of Australia was previously scrutinised for lacking where the federal government's Top 4 mitigation strategies were concerned. 

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