ISSN 1321-6260
December 2018 - No. 132

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Implementing the Recommendations of the Royal Commission

In December 2017 the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse released its Final Report. Volume 8: Records and recordkeeping contains five recommendations for improvements to recordkeeping by government and non-government organisations that care for or provide services to children. The NSW Government has responded to the recommendations and has accepted, or accepted in principle, all of the Commission’s recommendations relating to records and recordkeeping.  Over the last year NSW State Archives and Records has been working with affected public offices to support the implementation of the Recommendations. This has included amendments to the Standard on Records Management and retention and disposal authorities. Below is an outline of the work related to each recommendation:

Recommendations 8.1 and 8.2 concern the retention of records relating to child sexual abuse that has occurred or is alleged to have occurred for at least 45 years to allow for delayed disclosure by abuse victims. An audit of retention and disposal authorities showed that while some retain relevant records for longer than the Commission's recommendations, a number needed additional notes and see references, or increases to minimum retention periods. Last week the Board approved amendments to the disposal authorities for Juvenile Justice, the NSW Ombudsman, Family and Community Services, the Health Care Complaints Commission and the Health Professional Councils Authority, as well as the General retention and disposal authorities for administrative records and local government records. The amended authorities will be issued in January 2019. If your public office is affected we will already have been in contact. We aim to complete the process by April 2019.

Recommendation 8.3 requires records and archives authorities in Australia to provide guidance to government and non-government organisations on identifying records which may be relevant to actual or alleged incidents of child sexual abuse, and the retention and disposal of such records.  We are working with other Australian records and archives authorities through a working group of the Council of Australasian Archives and Records Authorities to develop guidance.  We are also liaising with those NSW Government agencies which work with non-government institutions.  

Recommendation 8.4 lists five principles for records and recordkeeping that should be used by all institutions who engage in child-related work. A review of the Standard on records management confirmed that no changes to the minimum compliance requirements were required, but some minor amendments (additional text) were required to the “Examples of how a public office can demonstrate compliance with the requirement” at 3.2, 3.4, and 3.5. An amended Standard on records management was issued on Friday 30 November 2018. The additional text is highlighted. Any queries about the amended Standard on records management may be directed to

Recommendation 8.5 requires that non-government schools comply, at a minimum, with standards applicable to government schools in relation to the creation, maintenance and disposal of records relevant to child safety and wellbeing, including child sexual abuse. We are liaising with the NSW Government agencies which work with non-government schools.

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We’re listening – benchmarking recommendations underway

The findings report of our benchmarking study has been delivered by the independent research agency AMR. We’re digesting the results and working out what it means for us. What we can tell you now is:

  • The mean score for understanding recordkeeping requirements was high.
  • There is a strong link between access to recordkeeping information and the degree to which an employee understands their recordkeeping obligations.
  • Councils and universities are more likely than public offices in State Government and local health districts to feel confident about their understanding of recordkeeping requirements.
  • You prefer emails, e-newsletters and the website compared to other communication channels.
  • You find our website useful and informative, however we need to improve the user experience.
  • You asked for case studies and information on digitisation. Check out the case studies on our website, our advice on digitisation, and our resources on topics including cloud email integration and information security.

Next steps

We’re continuing to analyse the findings and develop a communication strategy to support better understanding of recordkeeping obligations. Our user experience research to improve our website is underway – thanks again to our website user testers. The final benchmarking report will be shared on our website in early 2019.

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Spotlight on the new Agency Services team

On 1 November 2018 the Collections Services unit of NSW State Archives and Records was realigned to better leverage existing staff capabilities and maximise resources. This saw the formation of two new teams: Collection Logistics & Valuation and Agency Services.

The Agency Services team is responsible for managing new archival transfers, both physical and digital; administering access directions; and liaising with agencies to improve processes associated with the identification and transfer of State archives. The team welcomed members from a range of former work streams and units, including the Access Policy Officer, members of the Digital State Archives team and archivists from the former Archives Collection and Management Unit. The team is managed by Warwick Hunter, Senior Advisor Agency Services, and its members are Glen Humphries, Terry Joliffe, Rebecca Coombes and Allison Graycon.

One major piece of work for the team in 2019 is improving the processes associated with the transfer of records into the State Archives Collection. The Agency Services team is keen to understand the pain points and impediments met by agencies when attempting to transfer records as State archives. We released a survey to public offices to get an understanding of the issues, especially those which make transfer difficult, or prevent transfer altogether. The survey is now closed, but if you have any questions, comments to make or opinions to express, please contact us at or on (02) 9673 1788.

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Revised Standard on the physical storage of State records

The revised Standard on the physical storage of State records has now been approved by the Board of the State Archives and Records Authority of NSW and will be issued in early 2019. It features the following changes:

  • reduction in scope to only cover semi-active and inactive records in storage areas or facilities. The standard does not cover the creation and storage of paper records in office spaces as records are predominately being created in a digital format. Public offices that are creating paper records are encouraged to establish business rules about their creation, management and storage.
  • 6 principles instead of 7
  • no changes to temperature and humidity ranges but clearer distinctions in environmental conditions for storing short and medium term temporary records (up to 30 years) and long term temporary records or State archives (more than 30 years). 
  • tables which identify storage environment conditions and housing requirements by records format and retention period (see Tables A and B in the Standard)
  • increased counter disaster requirements, including insurance to cover the recovery and restoration of records affected by disaster, and notification to NSW State Archives and Records that records have been affected by a disaster
  • sentencing records for disposal prior to transferring the records to secondary storage facilities, enabling a better match-up of records to appropriate storage environments
  • increased focus on security and protecting records in accordance with the security frameworks issued by NSW Government and the Australian Government, and
  • new format including examples of how a public office can demonstrate compliance with each minimum requirement.

Public offices were supportive of the proposed new standard and we would like to thank those that responded to our request for feedback. 

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Senior Executive Fundamentals

The Public Service Commission has launched a resource for senior executives called Senior Executive Fundamentals. The website includes an Obligations section with a page devoted to records management which outlines the importance of managing records efficiently and effectively to support service delivery, good governance and accountability. This page was developed with input from NSW State Archives and Records and outlines senior executives' responsibilities under the State Records Act, key benefits of good recordkeeping, the requirement to establish a records management program, and what senior executives need to do. This page is an excellent resource for anyone working in recordkeeping who needs to promote records management programs within their organisation.

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New Exhibition: Electric Domestic: Modern lives, suburban dreams

Electric Domestic: Modern lives, suburban dreams is a new exhibition from NSW State Archives exploring power, modernity and the promotion of the Australian suburban dream in mid-1960s Australia. Presenting a selection of unique photographic images produced by the publicity department of Sydney County Council—and accompanied by advertising slogans typical of the era— Electric Domestic: Modern lives, suburban dreams provides an enjoyable and  nostalgic view of suburbia and the role that electricity and modern appliances had in creating the suburban dream. The exhibition is on at the Western Sydney Records Centre from 12 November but you can visit it virtually via the ecatalogue available from the website..

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Records Managers’ Forum podcasts and presentations now online

Data governance, results of NSW State Archives and Records' benchmarking, and updates to Government Recordkeeping were some of the topics presented at the Records Managers Forum on 4 December 2018.

  •          Can data governance be a fun thing to do?
  •          Collections, Access and Engagement at NSW State Archives and Records
  •          Benchmarking research findings
  •          Government Recordkeeping updates

Click here to listen to previous podcasts and presentations.

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Records Managers Forums

We are looking for new venues for the Records Managers Forums for 2019 and beyond as we are no longer part of the Department of Finance, Services and Innovation who manage the McKell Building. If you have a venue that can accommodate up to 100 people we would love to hear from you. Please email us at

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You were asking..

We receive many enquiries to our email address each week. Below are some recent issues thay have been raised:

  • do NSW public offices have to comply with policies, disposal freezes, disposal authorities etc issued by the National Archives of Australia (NAA)? NAA have some excellent resources and policies but these only apply to Commonwealth agencies - NSW public offices are not subject to them. This includes Digital Continuity 2020 policy, disposal freezes, and General Records Authority 41 on Child Sexual Abuse Incidents and Allegations. In relation to the Royal Commission will be amending the relevant disposal authorities rather than issuing a general authority. Please email us at if you need advice about digital continuity or the Royal Commission. 
  • can I destroy temporary records that pre-date 1980 after scanning? You can destroy records that are not required as State archives or required to be retained in agency regardless of the date range as long as you have a current disposal authority that covers the records and you comply with the conditions set out in the General authority for original or source records that have been copied.
  • can I scan and destroy documents that have a wet signature? This is related to the point above so in most cases the answer will be yes once a risk assessment has been conducted, however, the Electronic Transactions Regulation 2017 has requirements around documents that are tendered to a judicial body as part of legal proceedings that need to be complied with and this could include hard copy signed documents.
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Disposal authorities approved

NSW State Archives and Records recently approved disposal authorities for:

  • the Soil Conservation Service
  • collection management, commercial activities, public programs and facilities management in cultural, recreational and sporting institutions.

The Board also approved amendments to a number of disposal authorities to comply with the recommendations of the Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse (for details see item above on Royal Commission updates). 

Copies of our retention and disposal authorities are available from the Retention and disposal authorities page on our website.


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