ISSN 1321-6260
June 2020 - No. 141

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Updates on the Inquiry into the State Records Act 1998

The uncorrected transcript of the first hearing of the NSW Parliament's Standing Committee on Social Issue inquiry into the State Records Act 1998 and the policy paper on its review is now available. The second hearing is scheduled on 1 July 2020, 10am-3pm. This hearing will be webcast live:

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Covid-19 and recordkeeping

We now have a page of advice on recordkeeping issues around Covid-19. This includes:

  • Covid-19 and recordkeeping: making and keeping records of actions, decisions, and communications while working remotely
  • Covid-19 records and how long to keep them
  • Keeping contact information for Covid-19 and other purposes.

Please contact us at if you have any recordkeeping questions relating to Covid-19 that aren't addressed in the guidance above.

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COVID-19 records which may be required as State archives

We are currently planning to address the special requirements arising from the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure that appropriate COVID-19 records are retained for future generations.

Most of the records on whole-of-government response to the pandemic are already required as State archives in the existing functional authorities. However, other records, such as those documenting internal agency responses to COVID-19 or other series demonstrating impacts to NSW and its economy/citizens may be of permanent value. We will continue to communicate with any changes in requirements as we continue to assess the archival significance of other record types.

Please send us an email at if you have any specific questions or suggestions on what records relating to COVID-19 should be required as State archives.

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NSW Design Standards

NSW State Archives and Records recently worked with the NSW Design System team on guidance relating to data needs and designing for recordkeeping. The following is now available:

The Design System team can be contacted at if you know of any changes to policy or any new things being worked on across government that you encounter which can be incorporated into the guidance.

You can also join the Digital NSW community to collaborate with other creators of digital things across government, learn and ask questions about the NSW Design System and the Standards.

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Mini-webinars on web versions of GA28 and GA39

Mini-webinars on how to use the General retention and disposal authority: administrative records (GA28) and the General retention and disposal authority: local government records (GA39) are now available. The mini-webinars provide basic GA28 & GA39 information on:

  • structure and content
  • valuable resources available to help navigate the web version
  • how to use the A-Z Index.  

Watch Mini-webinar: How to use GA28 and Mini-webinar: How to use GA39.

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Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements (the Bushfire Royal Commission) – Preservation of State records

In February 2020 the Commonwealth Government established a Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements (the Bushfire Royal Commission).

The Deputy Secretary of the Department of Premier and Cabinet has sent a letter to all Secretaries requesting that agencies take appropriate steps to ensure that no records that may be relevant to or may be required in evidence for the Royal Commission are destroyed. In certain cases this may require the suspension of the routine disposal of records in accordance with retention and disposal authorities issued by NSW State Archives and Records. NSW State Archives and Records has issued advice to all Chief Executives on 22 May 2020.

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Tips for revising or developing retention and disposal authorities

There are detailed procedures on our website about the development of retention and disposal authorities for the records of your public office, but below are some useful tips:

  • talk to us first. We have a lot of existing disposal authorities, and if they provide appropriate disposal coverage for your records we can seek permission for you to use them without the expense and time involved in developing your own. We can also advise on what records are already covered by the general authorities.
  • we are moving away from very specific granular disposal authorities as our experience is these date quickly and can be more complicated to implement. Don't expect the disposal authority to have a one to one relationship with your business classification scheme - they are high level policy documents. 
  • as the authorities are approved by our Board, and detailed justifications are required for the disposal decisions, there is a lot of work on our side to get them ready for submission. There will always be a lag from when you send us the first draft to formal submission to the Board.
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What does retain in agency actually mean?

Retain in agency is occasionally used as a disposal action in some of our older retention and disposal authorities. More and more we are trying to avoid using it as retain in agency means:

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Sentencing clinics

We ran some sentencing clinics earlier in the year and are seeking expressions of interest from people interested in taking part in some more. The clinics are not formal training sessions - they are a chance to raise any questions or issues you may be experiencing in a friendly relaxed teleconference or GotoMeeting. We are considering running sessions for people seeking advice on other recordkeeping issues as well. Please email us at if you're interested, and if you are, what sort of issues you want to talk to us about.

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Online courses

The Australian Society of Archivists has released some online courses that may be of interest to those working with digital records, and have just released a toolkit on a trauma informed approach to managing archives that may be of relevance to people who work with records that have distressing content. They will also be releasing toolkits on out of home care records and indigenous recordkeeping. The website has advice about pricing

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Now and Then

Our sister newsletter Now and Then has some interesting articles on our latest exhibition A Thousand Words and the recent project to digitise 5,000 images of photographs from electricity providers of old suburban substations, vintage appliances, classic work vehicles, and electric light-lit street scenes which are now available online. There are also some behind the scenes videos of the collection and the repository on YouTube

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Disposal Authority approved

The Board recently approved a retention and disposal authority for the NSW Telco Authority. Copies of our retention and disposal authorities are available from the website.

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