Adequate Records Management - Outcome 6: Records disposal is managed


Official records must be disposed of in accordance with legislative and business requirements.

Disposal is the process by which official records of agencies are either destroyed, retained or transferred between agencies.  The State Records Act 1997 (the Act) defines disposal as to:

     (a)     destroy or abandon the record; or

     (b)     carry out an act or process as a result of which it is no longer possible or reasonably practicable to reproduce the whole or a part of the information contained in the record; or

     (c)     transfer or deliver ownership or possession of or sell the record, or purport to do so, but does not include to transfer or deliver the record to State Records or between one agency and another.

Sections 23 and 24 of the Act allow for the disposal of official records in accordance with determinations made by the Manager [Director], State Records and approved by the State Records Council. As legal documents, approved determinations take the form of disposal schedules - General Disposal Schedules (GDS), Operational Records Disposal Schedules (RDS) or Transfer of Ownership and Custody Schedules (TOCS).

Disposal Schedules

A disposal schedule is a systematic listing of records, created by an organisation or agency, which plans the life of the records from the time of their creation to their disposal.  It identifies business functions and related activities, classes of records (which result from each function and activity) and specifies retention periods and disposal triggers.  It ensures that in-active records are disposed of efficiently and effectively in accordance with legislative, evidential, financial, social and historical requirements.

General Disposal Schedules (GDS) are developed and used to sentence official records that are common to a particular function across Government or are common to a group of like agencies, eg schools, hospitals, etc. GDS’ include GDS 18 for use by Ministers’ Offices (Version 4), GDS 20 (5th Edition) for use by Local Government agencies and GDS 30 (Version 1) for use by State Government agencies. GDS’ have also been developed for Primary Schools (GDS 22) and Hospitals and Health Services (GDS 28). For more information about GDS’, including a full list refer to government.archives.sa.gov.au/content/general-disposal-schedules

Operational Records Disposal Schedules (RDS) are developed and used to sentence official records relating to functions and activities specific/unique to an agency. For more information about RDS’  see government.archives.sa.gov.au/content/operational-records-disposal-schedules-rds

Transfer of Ownership and Custody Schedules (TOCS) are developed for records whose ownership and/or custody are transferred to entities outside of the South Australian Government. For further information on TOCS, please contact Government Recordkeeping Services.

Sentencing Records

Sentencing is the process used to determine the disposal action that applies to a record by using an approved disposal schedule. It determines whether a record needs to be retained temporarily, and for what period, or permanently.

Temporary value records are either retained by an agency onsite or transferred offsite to an Approved Service Provider (ASP) until they are due for destruction.

Permanent value records are to be transferred to State Records of South Australia to form part of the South Australian Government Archives Collection once they are 15 years old or no longer needed for current administrative purposes, whichever occurs sooner. For further information see government.archives.sa.gov.au/content/transfer.

Other Disposal Considerations

When disposing of official records consideration may also need to be given to overarching general disposal schedules, Machinery of Government (MOG) changes, Native Title Claims, the separation of families, whether records are over 50 years or pre-1901 and Normal Administrative Practice (NAP).

Information about the process for agencies approving the destruction of official temporary value records can be found here [link]. http://government.archives.sa.gov.au/content/destruction-process

Overarching General Disposal Schedules

A number of general disposal schedules need to also be considered prior to the disposal of official records. These include:

Machinery of Government (MOG) changes

Machinery of Government changes may impact upon records management in general and the disposal of official records in particular.  For the transfer of records between South Australian Government agencies as a result of MOG changes refer to the Managing Records During Administrative Change Guideline for further information. For the transfer of records outside of the South Australian Government and the need for a TOCS contact Government Recordkeeping for advice.

Native Title Claims

Government agencies in South Australia have a crucial role to play in relation to Native Title claims.  As a party to Native Title claims, as well as holding the largest information source for indigenous claimants, it is vital that government agencies properly manage records relevant to Native Title claims.  Agencies must ensure that they are taking measures to retain those records that may help to support or defend a claim, as destruction of such records may expose their agency, and the government in general, to large financial and legal penalties.

The Separation of Families

State Records endorses Bringing them Home: the Report of the National Inquiry into the Separation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Children from their Families.

Recommendation 21 of the Inquiry states: “That no record relating to Indigenous individuals, families or communities or to any children, Indigenous or otherwise, removed from their families for any reason, whether held by government or non-government agencies, be destroyed.”

Records to be retained under Recommendation 21 relate to children removed from their families, irrespective of whether a person is indigenous or non-indigenous.

To assist agencies to meet their responsibilities under both Native Title and the Separation of Families, State Records, in consultation with the Crown Solicitor's Office, has produced GDS 16. Guidelines are available that detail the impact of these two issues on disposal.

Over 50 year records

There records are more than 50 years old, temporary disposal actions in GDS 20 and GDS 30 cannot automatically be applied and agencies are required to submit a specific briefing to the State Records Council (SRC) for disposal approval. Contact Government Recordkeeping Services for further advice.

Pre-1901 Records

Government agencies, both State and Local, need to be aware that all pre-1901 official records are to be retained permanently.  This decision was approved as a general disposal determination by the State Records Council at its meeting of 19 February 2008.

Agencies that still hold pre-1901 records need to contact Collection Management Services to discuss the transfer of these to the custody of State Records.

Normal Administrative Practice (NAP)

NAP is the concept that material can be destroyed according to 'normal administrative practice'. This provides for the routine destruction of drafts, duplicates and publications, with the test that it is obvious that no information of continuing value to the organisation will be destroyed.

See government.archives.sa.gov.au/content/general-disposal-schedules for further information.

Disposal Schedules

See government.archives.sa.gov.au/content/general-disposal-schedules for further information.


Appraisal of Official Records V1.8 (PDF 131KB)

Native Title, the Separation of Families and Official Records V3.3 (PDF 100KB)

Recordkeeping Advice Sheets

RK033 - Managing Normal Administrative Practice (NAP) in an EDRMS V1.2 (PDF 54KB)

RK051 - ARM - Disposal V1 (PDF 60KB)

RK054 - Implementing a Records Disposal Program (PDF 132KB)

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