A guide to finding Australian law resources

High Court of Australia

If you are researching law for the first time, you may find it worthwhile reading an overview of law in Australia and Australia’s legal system:

Our catalogue

A basic search in our catalogue will reward you with many books, journals and online resources.

Sources of Australian Law

Primary sources

Primary sources are the actual statements of law, made by law-making bodies.

They include:

  • Legislation (statutes or acts passed by parliament)
  • Subordinate legislation (including legislative instruments, regulations, statutory rules, by-laws, orders, ordinances, instruments or determinations)
  • Law reports (published reports of decisions or judgments of courts or tribunals)

The law in Australia operates on both a state and a commonwealth level.

Jurisdiction Link
Multiple jurisdictions

LawNow (browse by jurisdiction) (Lexis Advance)


Commonwealth Federal Register of Legislation
Australian Capital Territory ACT Legislation Register
New South Wales NSW Legislation
Northern Territory Northern Territory Legislation
Queensland Queensland Legislation
South Australia South Australian Legislation
Tasmania Tasmanian Legislation
Victoria Victorian Legislation and Parliamentary Documents
Western Australia Western Australia Legislation

Secondary sources

Secondary sources assist in locating and interpreting the primary sources.

They include:

International law

In Australia, we participate in world affairs under the rules in which participating nations agree to treat each other. The Office of International Law (OIL) within the Attorney-General's Department provides international law advice to the Australian Government. 

Different types of law in Australia

Other NLA research guides


Our eResources hold a comprehensive variety of different publications and cover some international sources.

We have a guide to major online resources available in the library or online.

How to cite the law in your work

In our collection we have numerous items that can explain how to properly cite legal works.

See for example: