ISSN 1321-6260
May - No. 134

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Administrative change - records considerations

Following the recently announced NSW Government Administrative Arrangement Orders, a number of public offices will be transferring functions to other agencies or merging into new clusters.  This could also mean changing arrangements with providers of records management services. Remember, ‘Records follow functions’, so if business activities or functions are being transferred, then the records relating to the business activities or functions will also be transferred.

It is critically important at such times that there is an agreement or MOU between agencies about what records are to be transferred, and a clear and agreed plan about how records (digital and paper-based) are to be managed through the transition.  

In the case of digital records, the transition will include moving data from one system to another, one service environment to another, or from one service provider to another.  Before migrating data, it is important to have undertaken an appropriate risk assessment as this will inform the migration planning and testing processes used. Planning and testing processes need to include:

  • Correct identification of what records and information (including metadata) are to be migrated from one system/service environment to another
  • Testing to ensure that all records and information (including metadata) have been successfully migrated to target system (new system/service environment)
  • Rectification processes to be used if there are issues with quality or success of the migration
  • Confirmation that the records and information (and metadata) that is needed for ongoing business, accountability and legal purposes, has been migrated
  • Documented appropriate timeframes for the transferring public office (or service provider) to hold the source records after successful migration before deletion occurs. The General Authority: Source records that have been migrated (GA48) provides authorisation for the disposal of source records after specific conditions have been met (see Section 1.3 of the General Authority).  Source records are required to be kept for an appropriate length of time after the migration to enable confirmation that the migration has been successful. Determination of the specific retention period must be based on an organisational risk assessment.

Further information

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Administrative change - access directions, disposal authorities, and storage providers

During the upcoming administrative changes, your agency may be amalgamated with another agency or acquire functions from another agency.   Agencies should contact:

  • NSW State Archives and Records to notify of changes affecting access directions (contact:
  • NSW State Archives and Records to discuss using a functional retention and disposal authority applying to another agency or function (contact:
  • Storage providers of records to advise of changes to agency responsible for controlling records, access and billing arrangements.

If you have any queries about administrative changes and records, please contact Government Recordkeeping on or telephone 02 8257 2900.

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General retention and disposal authority - patient records

The Board of the NSW State Archives and Records Authority approved the revised General retention and disposal authority: public health services patient records on 1st May.

It will take us a few weeks to formally issue the revised authority and we will contact the affected public offices directly to advise when it can be used. We will also be providing guidance about changes to disposal actions, including where there are no changes (this includes the 3 main classes of patient records). As far as possible there have been no changes to numbering in the authority to avoid resentencing of records but there have been some increases to retention periods around children's and mental health records, as well as records relating to sexual assault of minors. The indefinite retention of obstetric records has been removed although the records are required to be retained for 50 years after date of the birthing episode.

Thank you to to the Ministry of Health, the local health districts and the health pillars for their assistance with the review.

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Revised counter disaster guidance

The counter disaster guidance has just been revised. It describes the process of formulating Counter disaster plans and supports a public office’s preparedness for, and recovery from natural and man-made disasters affecting records in physical format.

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Retention and disposal authority for childcare records

The Board also approved a retention and disposal authority covering the provision and regulation of childcare services. This authority can be used by any NSW public office that provides childcare, as well as the NSW regulator of children's early education and care (currently the NSW Department of Education). We expect the authority to be available for use within the next few weeks.

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Records Managers' Forum presentations

The presentations from the April Records Managers' Forum are now available from our website. This includes:

  • Past, Present and Future: Three community engagement initiatives at the City Archives
  • Automating and improving business processes - University of Sydney Records Management Experience 
  • The NSW Government Policy Lab
  • The NSW Government Cyber Security Policy 
  • NSW State Archives and Records updates
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MayDay 2019

What is it?

Blue Shield Australia aims to promote the protection of cultural heritage in times of disaster or conflict. Each year Blue Shield Australia runs a MayDay campaign to raise awareness of disaster preparedness and recovery among archives, museums, galleries, local history groups, managers of sites or monuments and other cultural heritage organisations.

What can you do for MayDay 2019?

  • Check your disaster bin. Is it ready to be used if you have a disaster?
  • Download the MayDay Poster (at ) and display it in your organisation.  Start a conversation with your colleagues about disaster preparedness and planning.
  • Make sure your disaster plan is up to date. Schedule a practice of the disaster plan to ensure that you and your organisation know what to do if there’s a disaster.
  • Check out the information resources about disaster planning and disaster bins (see below).

Information resources about disaster planning and disaster bins:

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SRO and records management contacts

The Standard on records management requires each public office to have a designated Senior Responsible Officer (SRO) for records management. The SRO supports the Chief Executive by providing oversight of the public office’s records and information management. We recommend that the SRO should be the most senior officer with responsibility for records and information. If you haven’t nominated a SRO or your designated SRO has changed, please let us know using the form available from the website.

We also like to keep in contact with records management staff in public offices.  If you would like to advise us of new records management contacts at your organisation, please let us know using the new form available from the website. 

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Webcasting of local government Council meetings

The Model Code of Meeting Practice for Local Councils 2018 requires that from 14 December 2019 all meetings of the council and committees of the council are to be webcast on the council’s website. Advice on the retention of the webcasts is available from our Local Government Resources page. make sure you have the most up to date version of GA39 - earlier versions do not contain this advice.

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Head over to our Exhibitions page to read about Marriage: Love and Law and the History Mystery surrounding the Queen's album.

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