The Commonwealth Government is establishing a national Royal Commission into institutional responses to instances of, and allegations of child sexual abuse in Australia. http://www.childabuseroyalcommission.gov.au
It is anticipated that the Commission will commence its public work in early 2013.
This will have an impact on a number of Tasmanian government agencies. Documents which may be required for the Royal Commission must not be destroyed even if an approved disposal schedule or disposal authorisation is in place. All records relevant to the investigation or inquiry must be identified and preserved until it is completed. This includes historical records.
While the terms of reference have not been finalised, it is clear that the Royal Commission will have a broad scope, and a major focus will be on institutional responses to child abuse. It is anticipated that this will include the responses of institutions which receive reports of child abuse, those that investigate allegations of child abuse, and those that alleviate the impact of child abuse. A range of Tasmanian agencies may be required to provide evidence to the Commission.
Accordingly all Tasmanian government agencies should ensure that any records that may be relevant to the Commission are protected from destruction until further notice. This may require agencies to suspend the application of their Document Disposal Schedules under their relevant State Records Disposal Schedule or Disposal Authorisation in respect of certain matters, for example in respect of case records of allegations or investigations of child sexual abuse matters. Once the Royal Commission has been established, it is an offence under section 6k of the Royal Commissions Act 1902 (Cth) to wilfully destroy any document or writing that is or may be required in evidence before a Royal Commission of Inquiry. The State Archivist has contacted heads of Tasmanian Government Agencies to communicate this requirement.
If you are aware of sets of records that will be relevant to the Royal Commission can you please alert your Agencies Executive and TAHO of their existence and prepare them for access.
TAHO has released a Guideline on Records and Document Required for Legal Proceedings which is available at http://www.linc.tas.gov.au/global/govtrecordkeeping/services/guideadviceIf you have any queries, or require further guidance please contact Government Recordkeeping Unit on (03) 6165 5581 or by email email@example.com.
In the event of an emergency (fire or flood, for example) which places records at risk of damage, destruction, compromised integrity etc, the Tasmanian Archive and Heritage Office may be able to offer assistance and/or advice about the most effective actions and general disaster response.
This may involve visits by TAHO staff, provision of useful contacts or direction to appropriate facilities. Use our contact information to request assistance.In addition the National Archives of Australia has a considerable amount of useful information on its website.