ISSN 1321-6260
October 2018 - No. 131

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Update on benchmarking research

In the August issue of For the Record we advised that we were undertaking benchmarking research into how well people working for NSW public offices understand their government recordkeeping obligations. The fieldwork component of this research concluded on 21 October 2018. Thank you to everyone who supported this research, completed a survey or participated in an interview.

We received 995 survey responses and conducted 15 interviews with Senior Officers responsible for records management. Participants represented a range of organisations, from small to large, and from Sydney to regional or rural locations.

This is the first time we’ve measured how well people working for State and Local government agencies, hospitals and universities in NSW understand their recordkeeping obligations under the State Records Act 1998. The research will help us to facilitate better understanding of these responsibilities, a key focus for us in 2018-19. Related projects include developing a communication strategy and improving the user experience on the Government Recordkeeping website.

Next steps

An independent research agency, AMR, is analysing the responses to the survey and interviews. Findings will set a benchmark of understanding against which we can measure the success of our programs to improve understanding. It will also tell us how we should communicate in future. We will share the findings with you on our website by early 2019.

Still want to have a say?

While our survey has closed, we have a few spots left for Sydney-based volunteers to participate in website user testing. There is no financial incentive for participating, but your feedback will help us improve the user experience on the Government Recordkeeping website. Volunteer for website user testing by emailing

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Consultation on proposed new Standard on storage of physical records

NSW State Archives and Records has reviewed the Standard on the physical storage of State records (issued in 2012) and has now released a draft revised version that incorporates comments and suggestions received from public offices last year. The draft storage standard establishes minimum requirements for the storage of State records. Key changes include:

  • more detailed requirements for environmental storage of temporary records and State archives
  • increased counter disaster requirements
  • the need to sentence records prior to transfer to secondary storage
  • increased focus on the protection and security of records in accordance with frameworks issued by the NSW and Australian Governments, and
  • examples of how to comply with each minimum requirement.

Under the State Records Act 1998, NSW State Archives and Records is required to consult with public offices on any proposed standard. We are therefore seeking feedback from your organisation on the draft Standard on the physical storage of State records. Submissions will be accepted until 9 November 2018 and may be sent by email to or by post to:

NSW State Archives and Records
PO Box 516 Kingswood NSW 2747

Guidance on implementing the draft standard is currently being drafted and will be available later in 2018. For more information please contact Catherine Robinson, Senior Project Officer, Government Recordkeeping on (02) 8257 2990 or

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Centralisation of records management enquiries

We are adopting a new approach to managing the enquiries we receive about recordkeeping.  We are still very happy to hear from you and to respond to your queries, but we ask that you contact us at or by telephone at (02) 8257 2900. The email account is constantly monitored during working hours to ensure we get back to you as soon as possible.

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Royal Commission retention and disposal recommendations

The Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Allegations of Child Sexual Abuse recommended that records relating to allegations and cases of child sexual abuse should be retained for a minimum of 45 years to allow for delayed disclosure by victims. NSW State Archives and Records has already largely met these recommendations for allegations involving staff, which have a 99 year retention period under the general authorities. We have been working with the relevant public offices to review functional disposal authorities covering:

  • provision of services to children
  • regulating or licensing services involved in the provision of services to children
  • the receipt and investigation of complaints, allegations. etc.

This review has found that some authorities need amending as relevant entries do not meet the 45 year retention period, or it is unclear whether records of child abuse fall within their scope. We have made some proposed amendments which will be submitted to the Board for approval in December. We will communicate any updates once the amendments are approved. 

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Some farewells

We recently farewelled Dr Richard Lehane who began work at NSW State Archives and Records 12 years ago on the Aboriginal Trust Fund Repayment Scheme before moving to Government Recordkeeping and then the Digital State Archives team, eventually managing the program. Richard was a rare blend of an archivist with advanced technical skills - he will be missed.

We will also soon be farewelling Peri Stewart, who has worked in the Government Recordkeeping team for just under 20 years. Peri has primarily worked to create a sustainable framework and guidance helping public offices understand their requirements for records retention, disposal and transfer to the archives. The legacy of Richard and Peri's work will be lasting, both for public offices -- who are able to more appropriately balance retention with their operational requirements -- as well as ensuring the pipeline of valuable government records into the archives for decades to come.

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And a welcome

We are also very pleased to welcome Andrew Pickles as the Manager of Government Recordkeeping. Andrew will be at the Records Managers' Forum in December so come and say hello. (Details for the Forum are still to be finalised).

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Disposal authority for childcare services

Childcare services in NSW are subject to national and State regulations. To ensure compliance with these regulations, we have been working on a general disposal authority for the regulation and provision of childcare services that can be used by any relevant public office. We will be liaising with the local government, education, and health sectors to seek feedback on the draft.  If your organisation also provides childcare and is not from these sectors we would be interested in seeking your feedback as well. Please email for more information. 


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