Accessing Records

We would like to acknowledge those who spent time as children or youths in orphanages, children’s homes, foster homes or any other form of institutional or out-of-home ‘care’.

Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples should be aware that University of Melbourne Collections may contain images, voices or names of deceased persons, or culturally sensitive content. More information.

Care Leavers can request to see records directly to the University of Melbourne Archives (UMA), or via a support service. UMA coordinates with Find & Connect Support Services to provide extra services for Care Leavers and their families. As such we encourage Care Leavers and their families to apply for access to the restricted records via the support service in their state.  For support services contact details in your state or territory, please see Find & Connect Support Services.

What to Expect

''Many people who read their records don't expect it to be such an emotional experience and are not prepared for the significant emotional impact including feelings of anger, and hurt, but also sometimes feelings of confirmation or relief.”

Anyone who requests records from the collections with records about children in ‘care’, regardless of whether they are a Care Leaver or not, is given the information sheet: What to Expect when Accessing Records. This document includes information about the types of records you might find in the collection, the reasons they were collected in the first place and by whom, access conditions, the experience of accessing records, and where to get support and advice.

Finding and Requesting Records

For records specifically related to Care Leavers see Collections in this subject guide.

To search across all of UMA’s collections, go to the Archives home page and type your query into the ‘Search the catalogue’ box. The catalogue contains summary information about each of UMA’s collections, and often includes links to more detailed  Finding Aids.

To request records, you’ll need to quote the Collection Reference Number, Title, the Unit/Box number(s), and Access Conditions. Up to 10 boxes can be ordered at one time.

See the Reading Room page for requesting material and booking appointments.

Access Conditions – ‘Open’ and ‘Restricted’ records

Requests for ‘open’ records - those available to the general public - can be made via the University of Melbourne Reading Room.

‘Restricted’ records contain personal, medical and/or sensitive information. Restricted records are not ‘open’ or available to the general public for 75 years from the date of the last action recorded, and researchers may be required to meet special access conditions. This might include seeking permission from the person or organisation that created the records and in some cases UMA will ask researchers to sign a Deed of Undertaking to protect people's privacy. An Explainer has been created to assist with understanding the language used and obligations of the parties signing the Deed of Undertaking.

Contact Archives

Social Work Students, University of Melbourne 1958
Social Work Students, University of Melbourne New Arts Building, September 1958, University of Melbourne Photographs collection, Photograph taken by class member Gillian Cook,1993.0098.00001