Help with searching
- Where can I access the search function?
- What information can I search?
- How do I perform a basic search?
- How do I use the search results page?
- What is a 'collection' ?
- How do I use the collection search tab options?
- What if I want to 'Search Again' ?
- How do I use the 'Postcode' search?
- What are 'Related Searches'?
The search input box is located in the top right corner on every page of the australia.gov.au site.
By default, your search query will search across
- the australia.gov.au site and its indexes,
- all Australian Government websites,
- State, Territory and Local Government websites, and
- a catalogue of Australian Government publications held by Australian libraries
You can choose to search in a specific collection by selecting one of the search collection tabs. For further information see below What is a 'collection'? and How do I use the collection search tab options?
To perform a basic search, simply type in your search word(s) in the search box provided, then press Enter or click the Search button to initiate a search.
Tips for entering your search words :
- Every word matters. In a basic search all the words you put in the query will be used.
- Search is always case insensitive. i.e. Searching for ‘The Australian Taxation Office’ is the same as searching for the ‘australian taxation office’
- Punctuation is ignored. i.e. you can't search for @#$% or any other special characters.
Most queries do not require advanced operators as a basic query will often produce the results you need provided you follow a few basic guidelines shown below:
- Keep it simple. If you're looking for a particular department, just enter its name, or as much of its name as you can recall. If you're looking for a particular concept, place, or document, start with its name. Describe what you need with as few words as possible. Too many words may restrict your search results.
- Choose descriptive words only. Words that are not very descriptive, like 'document',' site,' or 'info,' are usually not needed and may limit your search results. For example, if you wish to search for birth certificate information, entering 'birth certificate info' does not add value to your query and it may not produce the desired results by including additional results with the word info which may or may not include the words birth and certificate. Limit your search words to a specific query of 'birth certificate'.
The search results page contains the following four sections:
- Summary Results – displayed at the top of the page and containing a summary of the search results
- Detailed search results - displayed directly below the summary and containing specific links to the relevant web pages which have a reference to your query
- Further results - if the detailed search results do not contain the information you are querying, you can scroll down the results page to see further results from Australian Government Websites, and State, Territory and Local Government Websites
- Related Search - displayed on the right of the results page is a feature that clusters your search results into related links by sub-topics. For further information see below "What are related searches?"
A collection is a grouping of information sources into categories by
- level of government, or
- resource type.
Within the australia.gov.au portal, the available collections are represented as search tab options. The collections available are All; australia.gov.au; Australian Government Websites; State, Territory and Local Government Websites; Publications; and Media Releases.
You can change the government repositories (or collections) you wish to search via the ‘collection search’ tabs which provide the following search options:
The All tab is the default for the site and searches across three collections:
- the australia.gov.au site and its indexes,
- Australian Government websites, including a catalogue of Australian Government publications held by Australian libraries, and
- State, Territory and Local Government websites.
Related Search results are presented as titled links by phrase or topic. Click on any of the provided related search links or options for suggested alternative searches within your query. Postcode searches are also available.
By choosing this tab you can refine your search to only the australia.gov.au site and its indexes. australia.gov.au contains service directory pages and FAQs with links to forms, websites and key Australian Government web resources.
You can Refine These Results by Interest, Agency, Subject, etc. or to only those belonging to a certain collection such as the A-Z List of Government Websites. Postcode searches are not available.
Australian Government Websites
Choose this tab to refine your search to display only results from Australian Government websites. Related Search results are presented as titled links by phrase or topic. Click on any of the provided related search links or options for suggested alternative searches within your query. Postcode searches are not available.
State, Territory and Local Govt Websites
Choose this tab to refine your search to display only results from State, Territory and Local Government websites. Related Search results are presented as titled links by phrase, topic or domain. Click on any of the provided related search links or options for suggested alternative searches within your query . Postcode searches are also available.
Choose this tab to refine your search to display only those results which are Australian Government publications.The result refinements are available are:
- Australian Government Websites & Libraries - the default which returns search results for Australian Government Publications available within either Government Websites or Libraries
- Libraries of Australia Catalogue only - returns only search results for Australian Government publications held by Australian libraries.
Postcode searches are not available.
Choose this tab to refine your search to display only those results which are Australian Government media releases. Additional result refinements are presented as a checkbox list of specific portfolios such as Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, the Attorney-General's, or Defence. To use this feature, check the box (es) next to the portfolios you require and click the Refine Results button. Postcode searches are not available.
If your initial search didn't return the results you were after, the Search Again bar allows you to search again using different search terms.
To redefine your search, describe what you need with as few terms or words as possible. Bear in mind that since all words are used in your search, each additional word will have a limiting effect on your search results. If you use too many words, this often has the effect of excluding some relevant links from your displayed search results.
It’s often better to start with fewer search words, as this has the advantage that if the search results do not display exactly what you need, the results will give you an indication of some additional search words which can be used . Enter these words as part of your search values in the Search Again box to refine your results
For example, you are searching for sites that contain business tax rebate information and your initial search term was ‘government rebate’. The initial search would contain all results relating to government rebates which would include solar energy rebates, fuel rebates as well as tax rebates. It may take some time to search through the results displayed to find the information you want.
You could then refine the results displayed by entering the search words ‘tax rebate ‘in the search again field and your search would find all results relating to taxation rebates. Your search results may also include a specific or common term for a type of rebate you would like to find out more about for example a tax rebate for small business – termed the 50% Business Tax Break. In that case you could search again using the term ‘50% Business Tax Break’ to isolate your results to information and links relating to a specific tax rebate area.
The postcode search feature is displayed as part of the Search Again bar and will allow you to refine the displayed State, Territory and Local Government Website search results to those for your state and local government area.
To perform this search, simply type in the postcode you want the search results for in the Postcode input box provided and then click the Search button. Your search page will then redisplay with postcode specific results for your query.
If you can't find the answer to your question here, contact us and we will endeavour to answer it for you.