National Archives gets AU$67m from Canberra to digitise records and lift cybersecurity

Deteriorating historical records will get a new lease of life when they become digitised, following a AU$67 million funding boost for the National Archives of Australia.

The Australian government has announced it will hand out AU$67.7 million to the National Archives of Australia to help further preserve the Commonwealth's aging records.

Specifically, part of the funding will be used to digitise and preserve what is considered the National Archives' "at-risk collection" as part of an "accelerated" four-year digitisation program.

The collection that will be digitised includes military documents in relation to World War II and the Vietnam and Korean wars, as well as immigration records and Census data, all of which are currently kept in various formats, including paper-based, photographers, film-based, magnetic audio-visual tapes, and digital files.

The cash injection will also be used to invest in cybersecurity, an area the National Archives of Australia was previously scrutinised for lacking where the federal government's Top 4 mitigation strategies were concerned. Not long after, then-director-general David Fricker told the Joint Committee of Public Accounts that he was concerned with the agency's capacity to achieve full compliance and measure such compliance accordingly.

"I am satisfied with the level of advice that we receive in terms of what is required to achieve that compliance, but I am concerned about our capability to achieve compliance and also our own qualification within the organisation to self-assess that we have achieved compliance," he said at the time.

The federal government added the National Archives would spend the funding boost towards its next generational digital archive, which would "facilitate secure and timely transfer of records to the National Archives' custody, their preservation, and digital access".

Additionally, the funding will also be used to boost staffing to help address backlogs for access to records and provide improved digitisation on-demand services.

Attorney-General Michaelia Cash described the funding as "vital".

"This funding will be critical to preserving our history, the national treasures that define it, and increasing the public's access to it," she said.

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