The State Records Act 1998 is administered by State Records Authority NSW (State Records NSW) and Museums of History NSW.   

This table provides a breakdown of the shared responsibility for administration of the State Records Act: 

State Records Act 

Administered by: 

Part 1 (Preliminary) 

State Records NSW 

Part 2 Records management responsibilities of public offices 

State Records NSW 

Part 3 Protection of state records  

State Records NSW 

Part 4 Museums of History NSW entitled to control of State records not currently in use 

Museums of History NSW 

Part 5 Recovery of estrays and other State records 

Museums of History NSW 

Part 6 Public access to records 

Museums of History NSW 

Part 7 The Authority and the Board 

State Records NSW 

What does this mean for public offices right now? 

The amendments to the State Records Act are significant reforms that strengthen the framework for good recordkeeping. Many of the reforms reflect our current understanding about good practice. This means that public offices that have good recordkeeping policies and practices will find the changes less challenging.  


Changes commencing on 31 December 2022 

Change to the definition of a public office

Section 3(1): A minor change to the definition of a public office ensures that private individuals or organisations are not included as public offices.  

Change to the definition of a State record

Section 3(1): The definition of a State record has been amended to: 

State record means a record made or received by a person, whether before or after the commencement of this section: 

  1. in the course of exercising official functions in a public office, or 
  2. for the purpose of a public office, or 
  3. for the use of a public office. 

The new definition clarifies what is meant by the term state record and removes ‘and kept’ from the definition to make it clear that any record made or received for use by a public office is a State record for the purposes of the Act whether it was kept or not. 

New monitoring power for State Records NSW

Sections 12(5) and 12(6): These new sections enable State Records NSW to issue a notice to a public office requiring the public office to conduct an assessment of its recordkeeping processes and records management program and to report the findings to State Records NSW. If State Records NSW is not satisfied with the public office’s report or the findings of the report, then it may include information about this in its annual report. 

This new power recognises the importance of good recordkeeping as a foundation of accountability and transparency of government and is designed to support better compliance across public offices. It will enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of existing regulatory tools. 

Increase in penalty units and timeframe for proceedings for offences

Section 21(1): This section prohibits any person from:  

  • abandoning or disposing of a State record, or 

  • transferring the ownership of a State record, or 

  • taking a State record out of NSW, or 

  • damaging, altering or neglecting a State record.  

The penalty units for section 21(1) have increased from 50 penalty units to 100 penalty units (equating to $11,000). 

Section 78: The timeframe in which proceedings for offences under the Act can be commenced has increased from within 2 years to within 3 years. This change is a direct response to the recommendations made by the Independent Commission Against Corruption in its Operation Dasha report. 

Changes commencing on 1 January 2024 

The Museums of History NSW Act 2022 delays the commencement of some of the amendments to the State Records Act 1998 to provide public offices with time to prepare.

Until 1 January 2024, public offices will continue to be subject to the current provisions in relation to the transfer of State records required as State archives, and to arrangements for public access to State records. 

Transfer planning

Section 32(4): This new section requires public offices to develop plans to transfer records required as State archives into the State Archives Collection. The details for transfer plans will be published via regulations to the State Records Act.   

Open access period reduced

The open access period for State records has been reduced from 30 years to 20 years. 

State records open to the public by default after 20 years

Records that are at least 20 years old will be open to public access if they are the subject of an Open to Public Access (OPA) direction. 

This change means that: 

  • State records that have a standard 30-year open public access direction will now be open at 20 years 
  • records aged 20 or more years that do not have access directions in place will be open to the public by default. 

The following will not be required from 1 January 2024: 

  • public office registration of OPA directions 
  • access directions for state records aged 20 or more years that are transferred into the State Archives Collection if the records can be open to the public.