The Aboriginal History Research Service (AHRS) assists people to locate historical records about themselves and their Aboriginal ancestors. Due to the personal and sensitive nature of information contained in the records, many are restricted and not publicly available.
Applicants can receive copies of all existing records within the AHRS collection that relate to themselves and/or their direct ancestors. This includes their mother’s side of the family, their father’s side or both. You can also request records for a specific ancestor. A researched family tree will be provided to assist with navigating the records where possible.
Most of the records held by the AHRS are state records created by previous ‘Native Welfare’ departments between 1886 and 1972. The records are administrative in nature, often containing information about birth dates, child endowments, employment and wages, parentage, marriage and partnerships, places of residence, travel permits, mission and station details and much more. The type of information varies between records. Some records exist for some Aboriginal people yet not for others. There are many reasons for this, for example, if someone was ‘exempt’ from the Aborigines Act then their information may not have been documented. Records have also been lost or destroyed overtime by successive State Government agencies.
The AHRS also holds copies of genealogies and photographs recorded by anthropologists Norman Tindale and Adolphus Peter Elkin in Western Australia between the 1920s and 1960s. A Name index to the Norman Tindale Collection
is available on this website. For a complete list of records that the AHRS provides access to, please see the Aboriginal History Research Services page.
Complete a family history application form and return to email@example.com, along with a copy of identification.
If you have a living grandparent(s) on the family side that you are researching, or alternatively a parent(s), they will need to sign the consent form provided in the application package. The policy does not discriminate between siblings, therefore brothers and sisters have equal right and access to the records. If you are seeking information on extended family members, such as an aunt or great uncle, permission is required from that person or from their direct descendants if they are no longer living.
For privacy reasons and under the direction of the State Records Act 2000, highly confidential health information as well as any third-party details will need to be redacted from any records provided. The AHRS is unable to provide adoption-related records and applicants will need to contact the Department of Communities directly for this information.
In most instances, applications are processed within 20 working days and the completed application will be forwarded by email where possible or by registered mail unless alternative arrangements are made.
The AHRS collection is not exhaustive and often external collections will need to be referred to as well. For a list of key organisations that might hold records and information to you, please see our further research assistance page.
We accept any form of official identification, however the common ones provided are listed below:
People who have experienced institutional child sexual abuse are eligible to apply for the National Redress Scheme, which has been set up by the Commonwealth Government. The scheme started on 1 July 2018 and will run to June 2027. If you are
thinking of applying for redress, please see the National Redress Scheme website for information on how to apply. There are also a number of redress support services in Western Australia that can provide free and confidential help with your application.
Your Aboriginal heritage is something that is personal to you. You do not need a letter of confirmation to identify as an Aboriginal person. However, you may be asked to provide proof or confirmation of Aboriginal heritage when applying for Indigenous-specific
services or programs. Government agencies and community organisations usually accept three ‘working criteria’ as confirmation of Aboriginal heritage:
Doing your family history may help you obtain proof of your heritage. However, in order to meet the full criteria, you will need to contact your relevant Recognised Aboriginal Representative Body, which may be one of the organisations listed below.
Who you contact will depend on where you family is from. An Aboriginal organisation in the area where you currently live may also be able to provide you with this confirmation.
Telephone 1800 161 301Email firstname.lastname@example.orgAddress Level 2, State Library of WA, 25 Francis Street, PerthPost PO Box 8349, Perth Business Centre WA 6849Twitter @The_ACHWA
Do not submit enquiries with this form.