Accessing Restricted Records

restricted recordsWhile some State archives are restricted for extended periods of time, there are avenues available to apply for access to these restricted records.

The decision to grant access to restricted State archives ultimately lies with the government agency responsible for creating those records. In cases where the creating agency is no longer in existence then the successor agency assumes responsibility for control of the records.

Advice on how to apply for access to restricted records can be obtained from State Records Office staff. For several agencies, application forms are available at the Search Room desk, which, in the main, require applicants to state specifically the reason(s) why they require access and which items they wish to have access to. The applicant will need to state the title of the file, the accession or consignment number, the item number and the date of the file on the relevant form.

Agencies determine access based on their individual restricted access policies and require certain criteria to be met before they will grant access.

Applying to Access Restricted Records

The following steps outline the procedures involved in applying to access restricted records:

  • Identify the restricted access items you require recording the relevant item number and title, and consignment details.
  • Obtain the relevant application form from the State Records Office Search Room Enquiry Desk or from the relevant agency, especially if the form is not available at SRO. A few agencies don't have a form as such, so will need to be contacted directly to access relevant State archives.
  • Complete the form including all relevant personal details, information on items required and reason for requesting access.
  • Post, email or deliver the completed form to the relevant agency. Each form contains details on where it should be lodged.
  • The agency may contact you for further to obtain information to assist in deciding if access will be granted. Exact details of this process will vary depending upon the agency and the sensitivity of the information required. In cases where information is required for family history purposes (eg. prisoner records) it may be necessary to obtain written authorisation from the person involved, or to prove direct descent in the case that the person is no longer alive - this is for the relevant agency to advise.
  • When a decision has been made you will be notified by the agency in writing. You will need to bring the letter of authorisation to the State Records Office to view these records. In a few circumstances a copy of the permission letter may be emailed to the SRO, but ultimately it is up to the client to retain the permission letter with them while viewing restricted records in the SRO.
  • The authorisation letter should also indicate the circumstances under which copying of restricted records is permitted.
  • If access to restricted material has been granted then it will be necessary to arrange for the retrieval of the items with State Records Office staff.  

SRO Search Room staff will only make restricted access items available to you once they have sighted the letter of authorisation giving you permission to access the relevant files. Therefore you must bring your letter of authorisation with you when you visit to view restricted access materials. Search Room staff may make a copy of your authorisation letter and this will be placed in a file at the desk for the reference of Search Room staff.                                                                                                                                                                                                             

NOTE: Microfilm copies of restricted access items can only be accessed during State Records Office opening hours 

Further Information

If you require more information on how to apply for access to restricted records please feel free to contact State Records Office Enquiry Desk staff either by telephone on (08) 9427 3600, via email at or in person.