Family history

Need help with your Aboriginal family history research? We may hold information in our collections about you or your direct ancestors. 

On this page

Aboriginal History WA (AHWA) holds many records relevant to Aboriginal people and their histories. These records were created by previous government agencies responsible for administrating Aboriginal ‘welfare’ policies between 1886 and 1972. Due to the personal and sensitive nature of information contained in the records, many are restricted and not publicly available.  

Submit a request

To access your family history records, complete the family history request form and email it to, along with a copy of your identification. 

If you are intending to release your family history records to a third party, you will also need to complete the Family History Consent Form:

If you would like help completing these request forms, please call the AHWA team on 1800 161 301 or email

Fact sheet

For more information please see our family history fact sheet.

Who can apply?

If you have a parent(s) or grandparent(s) who is living on the family side that you are researching, then the oldest living generation will need to be the applicant for the records.

What will I receive? 

Unless you have requested something specific, you will receive copies of all records that relate you and your direct ancestors along with a researched family tree. 

What’s in the records?

Most of the records that we manage access to are state records created by previous ‘native welfare’ departments between 1886 and 1972. The records were kept to serve the purpose of governmental bureaucracies and tend to be very administrative. They usually include information such as birth dates, child endowments, employment and wages, parentage, marriage and partnerships, places of residence, travel permits, and mission and station details. 

We also hold copies of genealogies, photographs, datacards and child crayon drawings recorded by Norman Tindale who was an anthropologist that visited more than 50 communities throughout Western Australia between the 1930s and 1960s.

Please be warned that the records contain confronting information which may cause sadness or be distressing to read. They also contain words, descriptions and terms which are considered offensive in today’s contexts. It is also possible that recorded information may be inaccurate or incomplete.

Why are the records restricted?

Within AHWA’s collections are records containing confidential personal information or material that is considered sensitive for one reason or another. Under the State Records Act 2000 and  Freedom of Information Act 1992, this type of information needs to be restricted for up to 100 years. Personal and sensitive information can only be released to the person who the record relates to, or to their direct descendants if that person is no longer living. Third parties can access material by obtaining third party consent.

Policy for access to restricted records

The policy for access to restricted records is currently under review.


Aboriginal History WA

Freecall 1800 161 301
Service desk open 10am to 2pm on level 3
State Library of WA, 25 Francis Street Perth
PO Box 8349, Perth Business Centre WA 6849


Page reviewed 09 July 2024