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Recordkeeping Advice No. 1

Government Employees Responsibilities in Relation to State Records

Issued: 13 July 2005

Recordkeeping Advices issued by the State Archivist provide advice on the management of records of State and local government organisations and support or explain recordkeeping requirements set out in formal State records guidelines.

This advice provides an overview of the responsibilities that State and local government employees have under the Archives Act 1983 in relation to recordkeeping in the organisations in which they are employed.

Ian Pearce
State Archivist


What is a record?

A record is a document or an object that is, or has been, made or kept by reason of any information or matter that it contains or can be obtained from it or by reason of its connection with any event person, circumstance, or thing. A document includes any printed or written material and an object includes a sound recording, coded storage device, magnetic tape or disc, microfilm, photograph, film, map, plan, or model or painting or other pictorial or graphic work.

State records are records of State government agencies, State authorities, or local authorities. These public bodies are defined in Section 3 of the Archives Act 1983.

Making and keeping records

Section 10 of the Archives Act 1983 deals with the making and keeping of State records. This section stipulates that proper records of the business of all government agencies must be made and kept and their accessibility maintained until they are dealt with through the other provisions of the Act.

Transfer of records to the Archives Office

Section 11 of the Archives Act 1983 deals with the transfer of State records to the Archives Office. This section states that when a record ceases to be used or referred to by a State or local government agency or authority, or is required to be made available for public use if initially kept for this reason, that record must be transferred to the Archives Office unless its destruction has been authorised, or an exemption been issued, by the State Archivist. Records which are not the subject of any of the above authorisations or exemptions and which have been in existence for 25 years must be transferred to the Archives Office.

Disposal of records

Section 20 of the Archives Act 1983 deals with the disposal of State records. 

Section 20-(1) stipulates that no government employee, or any other person, may destroy, or transfer custody or ownership of, any State records in their possession without written approval from the State Archivist. A person who contravenes this section may be liable to a financial penalty (50 penalty units).

Section 20-(5) states that a record ‘used by means of any mechanical or electronic device or equipment, including a computer, if treated or modified in such a way that would prevent information being obtained from it which could previously have been obtained will be deemed to be destruction of the record.