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logoProformat News                  ISSN 1833-9514
No 18
August 2007


August-September seminars

There are no seminars scheduled for August.
In September the following are programmed:

13 Sep: Introduction to FH research Cultural Centre Library Diagonal Road Oaklands Park 10:30am 2 hour session
27 Sep: Pitfalls in Family History Cultural Centre Library Diagonal Road Oaklands Park 10:30am 2 hour session

SA fees
From 1 July the fee for a SA BDM certificate rose $1.50 (4.3%) to $36.75.
Wills from the Probate Registry now cost $12.90.

Libraries with is now available at the following South Australian libraries:
   Happy Valley
   SA Genealogy & Heraldry Soc (
   State Library of SA
If you can add to this list please click

In this issue:

• August-September seminars
• SA fees
• LIbraries with

Mount your Digger CD data on your Hard Drive
Privacy and ID theft revisited


Adelaide Proformat
5 Windana Mews
Glandore SA 5037

Tel: +61 8 8371 4465
Fax: +61 8 8374 4479


Drafting charts
Locating documents
Seminar presentations
Writing & publishing
SA lookup service
Ship paintings

Mount your Digger CD data on your Hard Drive
Have you accumulated a number of Digger CDs and want to access them without the need to mount the CD?
The default installation creates a Digger directory containing a number of files. The files particular to each CD are identified by reference to the CD title, for example the VIC Pioneers CD files start with vicp, the QLD pioneers CD files start with qld1 and the SA Deaths CD files start with sad1.
The birth, marriage and death data is contained on each CD in a directory named DATA which contains files that have unique names for each CD.
To run these Digger indexes from a hard drive instead of the CDs two steps are required, as follows:
1. Copy the contents of the Data Folder from the CD onto your hard drive (noting that as the file names are unique to each CD they can be all copied to the same Data folder on the hard drive).
    • You will find the DATA folder in the Local Disk which is usually called C:
    • Just copy the contents from the DATA file on the CD into this folder.
    • If you do not have a folder called DATA, then create one,
2. Identify the .ini file relevant to the particular CD in the DIGGER folder, for example sad1.ini for the SA Deaths 1 CD and open that file with Windows Notepad by double clicking on it. At the end of each relevant .ini file you will see the following (assuming the CD was installed from a D drive letter CD-ROM drive):
Change the last two lines to match the hard drive letter that you copied the Data directory to, for example assuming a C drive, change the lines to show:
and save the file.
Note: These instructions assume that the CD data folders are replicated on the hard drive and are not located on the hard drive as a sub directory (folder), for example D:\Births is copied to C:\Births and not C:\Some directory name\Births.

Privacy and ID theft revisited
Since writing the item entitled Privacy and ID Fraud in the June newsletter that was picked up by AFTC Magazine July issue, I have had a number of people contact me to share their woes over the matter. More interestingly, the WA Registrar of BDM contacted AFTC Magazine and indicated that he was not all that happy as he felt they were being harsh on the Registries and advised AFTC that the Final Report of the NSW Parliamentary Legislative Council's Standing Committee on Social Issues called Births, Deaths and Marriages: An Open Register? was a basis for how the Australian BDM Registries tackle this issue.
I had been led to believe that this report focused on one principle of privacy namely that disclosure for a specific purpose means that the information cannot be used for any other reason. Hence you disclose your address and telephone number in the telephone book purely to inform the public how they may contact you by telephone. Using that data for any other purpose is inappropriate (and indeed now unlawful although impossible to police). The argument went that the registrar collected BDM data for specific purposes as defined in the Act and public disclosure was not one of them.
My point is that birth, marriages and deaths are very public events in any case.
How the report then went from that stance to determining the release date of the so-called historical records is not clear to me. The way the SA Registrar explained it was that in SA it was based on the old adage of life was three score and ten and therefore you could release birth records after 70 years which neatly led to 50 years for marriage but I am not too sure how they arrived at 25 for deaths under this scheme. Frankly I think they just plucked figures out of the air. What I do know is that in about 1992 all registrars agreed on uniform embargoed periods but when they all got home and talked to their political masters, changes in some cases were made!
Of course I am still left wondering why under this policy my 87-year old mother is entitled to less privacy than me!
The report indicates that it received 169 written submissions (I note that every capital city FHS except SAGHS made a submission.) from the public and 36 witnesses and the overwhelming majority wanted all records opened. Other considerations clearly outweighed these submissions.
After reading the report I am now aware that I was largely correct about the privacy issue. It says that if the information is to be owned at all, it belongs to the person to whom it relates. If it has been made available to a government department for a specific purpose then in the absence of special circumstances, that department should not use it, or allow its use, for any other purpose. (p52) Notwithstanding this statement, it is well known that certain groups do have access to the records including MPs and professional organisations!
The reasoning given for having closed records in the report is based on the amount of information disclosed on the certificates. I find this strange when other bodies such as the Probate Registries and Land Services offices have no such qualms. Ironically they excuse England/Wales and New Zealand for not having a closure period because their certificates hold little sensitive data. South Australia, Tasmania and Western Australia have certificates based on the English model with little data. All states’ indexes, apart from South Australia, disclose very little information—name, year and reference and not much else. Many family researchers would welcome the release of the indexes even if it meant the certificates themselves remained closed. At least they would have an indication of when the event occurred and may be able to follow it using other pathways such as newspapers and the like.
One interesting, but unproven issue was the suggestion that if the public had access to these records those providing the data may be disinclined to reveal personal issues. We all know that in the case of deaths in SA, the registrar collects far more data than is ever displayed on the certificate and moreover the data is collected at a most inopportune time as far as the grieving relatives and the desire for accuracy are concerned!
It would seem that the understanding of genealogical research by the compilers of the report is not good and reading the report it would seem that the submissions and witnesses might not have made it clear. The report quotes a genealogist (p64) as being preoccupied with research going back in time and that is, of course, only partly correct as I alluded to in my previous article. There is little doubt in my mind through experience that the tracing of living distant relatives, one’s cousins, often reveals information about one’s ancestry that has travelled down to the present via another family line. Personally my greatest break throughs and acquisition of new information and artefacts have come from distant cousins discovered in the course of family history research.
The report only makes a passing reference to identity fraud (p58, p66) which given its compilation date is not all that surprising. The report makes a strong point that the purpose of civil registration was never to provide evidence of identity although I suspect that currently this stance has changed given the great lengths registries now go to make forgery difficult. I still stand by my original comments on this matter.
In closing remember that this report was compiled by politicians and in fact the brief was to determine if the access to BDM certificates should be relaxed. I suspect if the matter was taken away from the political arena and the terms of reference worded differently, we could have easily had a completely different result!

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