Defence and service records held in Melbourne – Fact sheet 133

The central office of the Department of Defence was located at Victoria Barracks in Melbourne from Federation in 1901 until 1962 when most of its functions were relocated to Canberra. As a consequence, the Melbourne Office of the National Archives holds a large collection of Defence records that were created prior to the Department's relocation. These consist mainly of records which at times fell under the responsibility of separate Departments of the Army and the Navy, but also include early central administration records that may be found among series primarily dealing with Army or Navy matters.

Colonial period defence records

Colonial defence personnel records held in Melbourne have information about records of the Victorian colonial defence forces, including the Volunteer (militia) and Permanent forces, the Mounted Rifles and Victorian Rangers, the Naval Brigade and the Permanent Naval force. The records include periodic returns of units, registers, muster rolls and enrolment records, and contain the names of serving members accompanied by personal or service details. Most of these records have been digitised and can be viewed online through RecordSearch.

Administrative records

There is a large collection of policy, operational and administrative records of the Army (1901–62) and Navy (1911–59) held in series usually described as 'correspondence files' or 'correspondence series'. These series cover the broad range of matters dealt with by the Service Departments including personnel and employment conditions, works, finance, and supply and equipment issues. The indexes and registers for these series are complex and use of them can be time consuming. Correspondence series fall into a number of categories such as 'general', 'confidential', 'secret' and 'top secret'.

Personnel records

Service personnel records held in Melbourne include Army pay records, Boer War, Citizen Military and Permanent Military Force dossiers as well as a small quantity of Navy personnel records. They include individual personnel records for serving members as well as information relating to appointments and postings, leave, honours and conditions of service.

Service personnel records held in other locations

There are several significant collections of personnel records of Australian service held by other offices of the National Archives or by other agencies. Details of these are provide below.

Series title description
Series no.

First Australian Imperial Force personnel dossiers


Service records for World War I and World War II

Second Australian Imperial Force personnel dossiers


Service records for World War I and World War II

Citizen's Military Forces personnel dossiers


Service records for World War I and World War II

Army personnel files (1947–)


War service information


Confidential reports – Naval Officers (1912–)


Navy service records

Service cards for Navy Officers (1911–70)


Navy service records

Service cards for Petty Officers and men (1911–70)


Navy service records


RAAF Officers personnel files (1921–48)


RAAF service records

RAAF personnel files of Non-Commissioned Officers and other ranks (1921–48)


RAAF service records

RAAF personnel files – all ranks (1949–)


RAAF service records and War service information

Other Defence records

Most Defence central office records and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) or Department of Air records were transferred to Canberra in 1959.

Access to the records

Records are available once they are enter the open access period. Some records may remain exempt from public access beyond the open period, if they contain sensitive information.

Copyright National Archives of Australia 2019