Australian Museum government information Publication Guide
The Museum’s government information Publication Guide outlines in general terms:
• What our structure and functions are,
• What kind of government information we have,
• What kind of government information we will make available to the public,
• How that information will be made available, and
• Whether or not there is a charge to access specific kinds of information.
Our Structure and Functions
The Australian Museum is a leading cultural attraction and scientific research institution located in Sydney's CBD. The Museum delivers services to clients and stakeholders in three main fields:
- Collection management - the Museum maintains and develops the largest natural history and cultural collection in Australia with over 16 million registered items or lots,
- Scientific research - the Museum undertakes scientific research on its collection of objects and in the field to expand our understanding of the biota and indigenous cultures of Australia and the Pacific region, and
- Public programs - the Museum presents a wide array of exhibitions, programs and events to raise community awareness of the biota and indigenous cultures of Australia and the Pacific region.
The Australian Museum is a statutory body governed by Board of Trustees established under the Australian Museum Trust Act 1975. The objectives of the Act are to propogate knowledge about the natural environment of Australia and to increase that knowledge, particularly in the natural sciences of biology, anthropology and geology. The Museum is principally funded by the NSW Government operating through Communities NSW. All officers and employees of the Museum are appointed or employed under the Public Sector Management Act 2002.
Government information held by the Museum
The extant records of the Australian Museum date from 1836 and form a unique collection of source material for students of natural history, science, Australian history, and the changing role of museums in our society. In conjunction with the acquisition of large collections of specimens and artefacts, there developed a correspondingly large group of supporting documentation, such as accession schedules, purchase and exchange records, correspondence, minutes of various committees, personal papers etc., all of which are part of the Archives holdings. A large body of official inward and outward correspondence from 1837 onwards is held and the majority of this is indexed. In addition the Archives also holds Minute Books, reports, files, exhibition files, research notes and papers, news cuttings, photographs, drawings and illustrations, material archives, maps, plans, and publications.
All records relating to staff, selection, appraisal, recruitment and training are held in the Human Resources Unit.
These records cover all aspects of the Museum’s decision-making and administrative functions, and are registered in the central records system or held in local office areas.
The functions of the Research and Collections Division include: management of the collections, research, contributing to public programs, and disseminating information. The records created and maintained reflect these functions: collection records (documenting the acquisition, registration, use, conservation and management of the collections); research records (notes, data, field trips, pictorial material, manuscripts); information files; publications; correspondence files; and administrative records (budgets, corporate plans, grant applications, annual reports, correspondence).
Public Program records
Records documenting the Museum’s public program functions include exhibition files, education files, teaching materials, public relations and marketing files, public program planning papers and reports, audience research surveys and reports, and publications.
Planning and Policy documents
Policy documents guide the Museum's decisions, actions and procedures, while planning documents reflect the institution's strategies and aspirations.
The Australian Museum produces a wide range of publications of both specialist and general interest.
What kind of government information is made available to the public, and how?
Open access information
The Museum makes available, free of charge on this website, the following “open access information”:
- Annual Reports,
- All other documents that are tabled in Parliament concerning the Museum,
- Policy documents,
- Details of significant contracts and tenders with the private sector, and
- The Museum’s disclosure log.
Other pro-actively released information
In addition, the Museum pro-actively makes available, free of charge on this website, a large range of additional information, including the following:
- Strategic plans including the corporate strategic plan,
- Biographies of the Museum Trustees and Executive,
- Information about the Museum's research library, archival collections, natural and cultural collections and public programs,
- Media releases,
- The newsletter of the Lizard Island Research Station,
- An annual research report and a register of research projects, and
- A register of scientific publications by Museum staff and associates.
Information available on informal request
A request may be made at any time for other information held by the Museum. While the Museum reserves the right to require a formal access application to be made, the Museum will generally provide the following types of information in response to an informal request, without the need to make a formal access application:
- Copies of correspondence, where the person requesting the correspondence was the person who sent it to the Museum,
- Documents that contain only personal information about a particular individual, where the person requesting the document is the individual in question (staff of the Museum may gain access to their own files by contacting the HR unit),
- Documents that have already been made public in some other way, and
- Other reasonable requests for information, the release of which would not raise any potential concerns in terms of public interests considerations against disclosure.
The Museum reserves the right impose conditions in relation to the use or disclosure of information that is released in response to an informal request.
All of the Museum’s published books, serials and reports may be accessed through the Australian Museum Research Library (open by appointment, phone 02 9320 6152).
Policy and planning documents and archival documents may all be accessed through the Australian Museum Archives (open by appointment, phone 02 9320 6148 or via the archives contact form). The Museum’s institutional archives are public records and come under the NSW State Records Act 1998 and are managed and accessed in accordance with that Act. As such, access to records less than 30 years old may be restricted under some circumstances. Public access to acquired archival documents may also be subject to conditions set by the donor at the time of acquisition.
Information available in response to an access application
An access application may be made for all other information held by the Museum (other than certain “excluded information”, set out below). Access applications are subject to application fees and processing charges in accordance with the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009. Access applications may be mailed to:
Coordinator (Public Access to Government Information)
6 College Street
Sydney NSW 2010
Information that is not available in response to an access application
Although an access application may be made for all government information held by the Museum, the Museum will not release information if there is an overriding public interest against the disclosure of the information. Some of the particular information that the Museum cannot release in response to an access application may include:
- A document prepared primarily for the purpose of submision to Cabinet or the Executive Council,
- Commercially sensitive information,
- Personal and/or defamatory material,
- Culturally sensitive information (for example traditional secret/sacred Aboriginal knowledge or images),
- Sensitive information about locations of items of Aboriginal or environmental heritage, but only if that information is subject to certain actions under the National Parks and Wildlife Act 1974, the Threatened Species Conservation Act 1995 or the Local Government Act 1993, and
- Documents whose release would constitute a contempt of court or breach a judicial order.
Otherwise, the Museum will release information in response to a valid access application unless there is an overriding public interest against disclosure.
The Australian Museum may hold copies of information that was orginally created by other agencies. For the purposes of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009, requests for such information should be made through the originating agency.
Dr Scott Mitchell , Head, Cultural Collection Conservation & Consulting