Chapter 2—Agency overview

Role and functions

The Old Parliament House building was originally the provisional home of the federal parliament, from its opening in 1927 until the opening of the permanent Parliament House in 1988. In 1992, Old Parliament House reopened to the public as a museum of Australian political, social and parliamentary history. The museum’s role and scope were substantially expanded in May 2009 when it was relaunched as the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House.

The agency’s role is:

  • to be the Museum of Australian Democracy at Old Parliament House and to ensure that our audience is able to enjoy, appreciate and understand the role of democracy in the history of Australia
  • to conserve Old Parliament House as a significant national heritage site, and conserve the building and the heritage collections for future generations.

The Strategic Plan 2009–12 sets out the following vision, mission, objectives and values for Old Parliament House.


To celebrate, debate and experience the journey of Australian democracy.


We are committed to fulfilling this vision and providing an inspirational experience for our audiences by:

  • engaging with them to enrich their understanding of Australia’s past, present and future democracy
  • providing a range of dynamic and engaging programs relevant to our vision
  • managing, conserving, interpreting and presenting our heritage building and its collections.

Key objectives

We will achieve our mission by:

  • increasing visitation and access to high-quality, interesting and entertaining exhibitions, tours, interpretation, education programs and other activities, both onsite and externally
  • continually expanding our role and activities in telling the story of Australia’s past, present and future democracy through the ongoing management and continuing development of the Museum of Australian Democracy, including the Australian Prime Ministers Centre
  • ensuring the building is maintained, conserved and capable of sustainable use in accordance with legislative obligations and the highest heritage standards
  • implementing effective governance arrangements, planning structures and staffing capability.


We are committed to:

  • upholding the values of the Australian Public Service—we are accountable and responsible for our decisions and actions
  • providing the highest quality service in everything we do
  • inclusiveness through diversity of participation, thought and action
  • even-handedness, fairness and impartiality in our treatment of subjects and issues
  • the national significance of the site and collections through best practice conservation
  • our people and their personal and professional development.
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