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Australia film archive gets $41.9 million to digitise audiovisual heritage

The funding will be used to boost the archive’s cyber security and expand its digital storage capacity too

The National Film and Sound Archive of Australia (NFSA) is set to receive $41.9 million in funding to digitise 240,000 of the nation’s at-risk audiovisual heritage items.

The funding is for four years and will help digitise audiovisual content held across eight National Collecting Institutions (NCIs). It will also allow the NFSA to double its current video and audio digitisation efforts, ensuring critical moments in Australia’s memory are preserved for generations to come, said NFSA.

The NFSA plans to expand its digital storage capacity from six petabytes to 165 petabytes over the four years and will boost its storage and cyber security to protect vulnerable systems from cyber attacks.

It will also create an off-site data centre to provide improved security and a world-leading disaster recovery capability.

The seven other NCIs to benefit are the Australian Institute of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Studies (AIATSIS), Australian National Maritime Museum, Australian War Memorial, National Gallery of Australia, National Library of Australia, National Museum of Australia, and Questacon.

“The stories and memories these materials contain provide us with an immediate connection to our lived past, as well as insights into our national character and where we might be heading,” said NFSA chief executive officer Patrick McIntyre.

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“And audiovisual media keep these stories alive in uniquely vital and moving ways. This boost in funding will allow us to get ahead of the risks of obsolete playback equipment and deteriorating tape formats.”

In 2020, the NFSA received a funding boost of $5.5 million to kickstart a critical project to digitise some of its audio and magnetic tape collection to the highest archival standard, before it was lost forever. This new announcement extends the work to support the digitisation of all known at-risk audiovisual material held in the collection.

This comes after the government allocated $67.7 million to the National Archives of Australia in July to help the organisation preserve its at-risk records and overhaul its cyber security systems. The funding is going to be used to accelerate a four-year digitisation programme and measures to improve cyber-resilience capabilities.

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