ISSN 1321-6260
December 2016 - Number 120

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Our name has changed!

We are very pleased to announce that the Authority’s name officially changed to the State Archives and Records Authority of New South Wales on 25 October 2016. This change added “Archives” back into the Authority’s name. Our new name is the State Archives and Records Authority of New South Wales.

This is great news as it now means we have a much easier way to describe who we are and brings focus to our identify and purposes in what we do. This change further emphasises the important role the Authority plays in providing advice on good records and archives management practices to public offices.

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SMS Messages

We remind NSW public offices that text messages created or received in the course of official business are State records. The State Records Act 1998 defines a record as ‘any document or other source of information compiled, recorded or stored in written form or on film, or by electronic process, or in any other manner or by any other means’ (s.3). The Act goes on to define a State record as ‘any record made and kept, or received and kept, by any person in the course of the exercise of official functions in a public office, or for any purpose of a public office, or for the use of a public office’ (s.3).

Part 8 of the State Records Regulation 2015 prescribes guidelines on when you can destroy short message service (SMS) messages as a normal administrative practice. You cannot destroy messages that have continuing value, which means records that have administrative, business, fiscal, legal, evidential or historic value to the public office. You must assess continuing value based on the information contained in the text message and the context in which it was sent or received, and not on the format of the record itself.

Text messages need to be managed in the same way you manage other business records. They should be captured, maintained and disposed of in accordance with the relevant legislation and their business value.

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Recent Future Proof blogposts

State Archives and Records NSW uses its Future Proof blog to post information about current digital recordkeeping issues. On the blog we road-test new ideas, distribute new information and initiate discussion on digital recordkeeping issues. Recent posts include:

  • Text messages are State records
  • Readying for Release – open data initiatives
  • The Magic Touch: balancing autonomy and automation
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Broken Hill visit

On 10 November our Executive Director Geoff Hinchcliffe was the special guest at the Broken Hill City Library for the launch of the Windows into Wartime touring exhibition. The exhibition is a ‘pop up’, or smaller, mobile exhibition to that currently on display at the Western Sydney Records Centre. The exhibition will tour throughout NSW to Regional Archives Centres in Newcastle, Armidale, Wagga and Wollongong until November 2017.

Geoff was interviewed on ABC Radio Broken Hill and also attended meetings with Broken Hill Council CEO, James Roncon, and other senior staff to discuss the Council’s Living Museums project and its broader plans for a dedicated archives facility.

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Are you moving premises or disposing of property surplus to needs?

Records should never be left behind when a property is vacated and all records (paper or digital) affected by a move or closure need to be identified.

During preparations for office relocations or closures it is important that all places where records are stored (cupboards, desk drawers, cabinets, basements, the hard drives of printers, computers, attics, sheds, etc.) are checked, and that arrangements are in place to ensure the removal of all records from the building. This may entail the destruction of records in accordance with the authorised retention and disposal authorities for your organisation, and arranging for the transfer of records to alternative storage. If records need to be relocated, it is important to ensure that they are properly listed, packaged and transported. For further information see:

Disposal can entail the transfer of records as State archives or the destruction of records. If destruction is being undertaken it is important to be vigilant during preparations to ensure that only the correct records and information are destroyed. For further information see:

There have been instances of official records being given away to individuals or community organisations during relocations. Transferring records out of the control of State constitutes a breach of the State Records Act, even when the records have been approved for destruction. Please contact for more information.

For transfers of digital records and systems required as State archives in a retention and disposal authority please contact Digital Archives.

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Recordkeeping Reminders leaflet

We have recently revised our Recordkeeping reminders leaflet to reflect the digital environment. The leaflet outlines some common situations where public officials in NSW should make and save records and information into the organisation’s systems.

Meetings: delegate someone to make a record of the meeting including when it was held, attendees, discussion points, decisions, any dissent or issues raised by participants, advice or information provided/communicated, and actions to be taken. 

Discussions and decisions: Make a record of business you conduct or decisions that you make via telephone, SMS (short message service) and other platforms such as WhatsApp, or face to face. This can include providing advice, instructions or recommendations, giving permissions and consent, and making decisions, commitments or agreements, including the reasons for decisions or recommendations.

Project records: Ensure that records relating to your projects are created and saved into your organisation’s recordkeeping or business systems so that information about the delivery of projects is available to others in the organisation.

Drafts submitted for comment or approval by others, containing significant or substantial changes or annotations, relating to the development of policy and procedures, legislation, legislative proposals and amendments should be saved.

Working papers are papers and notes used to prepare or complete other records. Working papers that document significant decisions, discussions, reasons and actions or contain significant information that is not contained in the final version of the record should be saved.

Collaborative work spaces are used to communicate, develop joint policies and guidance, and for a range of other processes. Make sure that the recordkeeping responsibilities of these activities are identified and that key drafts, final documents and communications are captured within your organisation’s business or recordkeeping system.

Mobile Devices: transfer, copy and/or sync records and information saved in corporate mobile devices into your organisation’s systems and/or repositories to ensure that records are stored.

Emails and correspondence sent and received should be managed in accordance with your organisation’s business rules. In some cases, they may be generated and captured automatically within a business system as part of a work process. In other cases, you will need to them within your organisation’s recordkeeping system.

Social media is one of the primary communication channels used to engage with the community. To assess whether you need to capture and save records of social media activities or posts within business systems, consider:

  • do people rely on advice or information you post to social media to inform their actions or decisions?
  • does your post communicate decisions and commit the organisation to an action?
  • does your post seek feedback regarding agency-wide issues on governance, policies and procedures?
  • will you need to prove what you posted?

Information management: things to consider

  • Understand your organisation’s rules around records and information, such as when you need to make records; how you should title /label them; where they should be managed; who should have access to them; when should they be shared; whether the information is confidential and/or sensitive; and who they can be shared with.
  • Using your organisation’s business systems and repositories to save your records and information ensures that the information you rely on is also available to others. Information held in appropriate business systems can be properly managed, protected and made accessible.
  • Use of standardised organisational processes and templates makes it simpler to document actions, decisions, approvals and outcomes.
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Dealing with wet records

Wet weather can be disastrous for organisations. In the last eight years it is estimated that over $15 million has been spent assisting NSW Government organisations to salvage and recover hardcopy records that have been damaged due to inappropriate storage. Timely action to identify and initiate treatment of water damaged records is crucial to avoid or minimise these costly recovery operations. All records storage areas and facilities should be checked for damage as soon as it is possible and safe to do so after bad weather or storms. Mould growth often follows water damage to records. The following information will assist in recovery operation and planning:

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Christmas closedown

Please note that Government Recordkeeping will be closed from Monday 26 December and will reopen on Monday 9 January 2017. We wish all our recordkeeping colleagues across the State the best for the New Year. 

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