Family Records Service

Aboriginal Affairs operates the Family Records Service (FRS) to help Aboriginal people in New South Wales to access records pertaining to themselves, or their ancestors, that are held in the archive collection of the former Aborigines Welfare Board (formerly known as the Aborigines Protection Board) and the Chief Secretary records relating to Aboriginal affairs. The records span the period from 1890 to 1969. Due to the personal and sensitive nature of information contained in these records, many of the records are closed to public access.

The Family Records Service has been operating since 2002 and its establishment was informed by the recommendations of the Bringing them Home report from the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families. This report highlighted the need to support members of the Stolen Generations to reconnect with their family and community and to re-establish links to their Aboriginal cultural heritage.

People can apply to the Family Records Service to receive copies of records pertaining to themselves or their ancestors. Applications can also be made from case workers working for Family and Community Services and service providers seeking family and community related information for state wards in their care. Applications for access for public or private research interests may also be received from academic researchers, historians, and documentary or film makers.

All requests are considered within the context of the Privacy & Personal Information Protection Act, Government Information (Public Access) Act and the State Records Act, and for ‘closed’ records which contain personal information, access is only provided with the necessary permission of the people named in the records, or their direct descendants.

There is no cost for this service.


How to access the records

You can apply to access the records of the former Aborigines Welfare Board (formerly known as Aborigines Protection Board) and Chief Secretary by completing a "Finding your Mob" Personal Family History Research application form obtained through the Family Records Service.

Applicants need to provide a copy of their own birth certificate, or where not available, a copy of their driver’s licence and/or health card.

To assist in processing applications it is important to link the applicant to the names listed on your application. As a guide the following list of supporting documents, where possible, should be included with your application:

For You Your Parents Your Grandparents Your Great Grandparents
Birth certificate Birth certificate(s) Birth certificate(s) Birth certificate(s)
Marriage certificate Marriage certificate(s) Marriage certificate(s) Marriage certificate(s)
Driver’s Licence Death certificates
(if deemed appropriate)
Death certificates
(if deemed appropriate)
Death certificates
(if deemed appropriate)

Obtain a copy of the "Finding your Mob" Personal Family History Research Application

There are two options to obtain a copy of the “Finding your Mob” personal family history research application:

  1. Contact the Family Records Service on the toll free number 1800 019 998 or
  2. Send an email request to familyhistory@aboriginalaffairs.nsw.gov.au.

Links to other agencies who can assist you with family history research

To assist you in your journey to research your family history we recommend that you visit the following links:

AIATSIS
Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies

Finding your family: help you to research your Indigenous family history.

Visit AIATSIS – Find your family

Find & Connect

History & information about Australian orphanages, children’s Homes & other institutions.

Visit Find & Connect

National Archives of Australia
Records about Indigenous Australians

Australian Government records held by the National Archives include information relevant to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people and their histories.

Visit National Archives of Australia

National Library of Australia
Collections/What we collect/Indigenous

The Library’s collection holds a diverse range of materials for Australia’s past and contemporary Indigenous culture.

Visit National Library of Australia

NSW Justice Registry of Births Deaths & Marriages
Family History Search

Records of births, deaths and marriages in NSW that date from 1856. Early church records from 1788 to 1855 are also available. The search function allows unrestricted searching, with no identification required for Births over 100 years ago; Deaths over 30 years ago; Marriages over 50 years ago.

Visit BDM Family History Search

State Archives and Records Authority NSW

This overview provides a brief explanation of State archives that document the NSW government’s interaction with Aboriginal people from 1788 until today.

Visit State Archives and Records Authority NSW

State Library of New South Wales

Contact the Indigenous Services at the Library who can assist you with family history.

Visit State Library of NSW

eResources of interest

1997 ‘Bringing Them Home’ the Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families
You can find the report here

NSW Government Response: Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families
View the NSW Government Response (PDF)

Securing the Truth: NSW Government Submission to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families
View Securing the Truth (PDF)

NSW Office of Environment & Heritage – Heritage places and items for:
Information on the Kinchela Aboriginal Boys’ Training Home
Information on the Cootamundra Aboriginal Girls’ Training Home
Information on the Bomaderry Aboriginal Children’s Home


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